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JULIE T. 



" The lyfe so short, the craft so long to learn, 
The assay so hard, so sharp the conquering." 

Chaucer. 

' ' I ask thee for a faithful love, 
Through constant watching, wise." 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 



VOL. I. 




LONDON 

RICHARD BENTLEY & SON, NEW BURLINGTON ST. 

"publishers in Chbhraqr to gcr Jflajcstir tjje (SJuccir. 

1883. 



r*3 

V.I 




u 

CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

TA9E 

> Alderdale I 

CHAPTER II. 
Molly 15 

CHAPTER III. 
Among the Wild Roses 30 

CHAPTER IV. 
Tea at Alderdale 43 

CHAPTER V. 

Brunskill's Move 66 

■ 

CHAPTER VI. 

On the Verge ........ 86 



iv COXTEXTS. 



CHAPTER VII. 

PAGE 

Over the Verge ioo 



CHAPTER VIII. 
With Isabel 123 

CHAPTER IX. 
Self-confest 135 

CHAPTER X. 
Advanxe 158 



CHAPTER XI. 
Misgivings 173 



CHAPTER XII. 
By the Whern ' . 186 

CHAPTER XIII. 
A Black Night 232 

CHAPTER XIV. 
Past versus Present 263 








JULIET. 



CHAPTER I. 



ALDERDALE. 



"And vou were verv sorrv when the Lav- 
bournes went awav ? ' 

'• I was more sorrv than anv words can 
express. You know I am a lonely man, 
Molly, and Lay bourne and his wife were 
friends to me, and their children like mv bro- 
thers and sisters. There was always some- 
thin^ in which to be interested among: them 
all. When thev were ^one. and Mr. and 
Miss Gliddon had taken their place, it was 
not like the same house. For a lon^ time I 

VOL. I. I 



2 JULIET. 

could scarcely endure to go near it. I missed 
them all, Ted and Juliet, Carrie and Sophie, 
Sam and Phil, even the little twins. It 
became more of a vicarage certainly, but, to 
my fancy, less of a home." 

" And how long was it before you made 
friends with the Gliddons?" 

11 Not long. Mr. Gliddon was delicate, 
and cared more for study than parish work ; 
so I began to help him, as I had helped 
Laybourne, when my own work-hours were 
over." 

" I never heard how it really happened, 
but I know Mr. Gliddon did something verv 
unselfish. Every one always shakes his head 
in naming him, and says, 'Ay, but Passon's 
a gey gude mon.' What did he do, Mr. 
Brunskill ? ' 

As Molly Murdock spoke, she laughed 
the low laugh which always made Brunskill 
smile, so happy was it. Then she took up 
her hood from the grass, where she had 



ALDERDALE. 



thrown it on sitting down, and tying its 
strings atop of it, stuck within them a bunch 
of pink-frilled daisies. Smoothing back her 
wind-roughened brown hair with one hand, 
she, with the other, put on this white hood, 
tilting it well over her brow, and getting an 
effect of jauntiness, crisp freshness, and pure 
coolness which Brunskill was far from being 
the only one to think bewitching. No other 
dales-girl in Wherndale had this knack, but 
no other dales-girl w r ore white hoods in 
summer and red ones in winter, for hay- 
making, walking, and church-service, and 
whatever was going on. Her cotempo- 
raries patronized gaudy hats for best, and 
lilac-printed hoods for common, and dis- 
dained her better taste and sense with a 
disdain largely jealous of their easy sim- 
plicity, for which Gilbert Brunskill was 
devoutly thankful each time he saw her in 
the street of Moorhead or the fields round 
Alderdale, for, far or near, there was no fear 



4 JULIET. 

of mistaking the white hood and its wearer. 
Involuntarily, he now leant forward to look 
within the circle of its shadow, and their eyes 
met, hers shining forth with limpid softness 
to rest gravely on his ; her lips half-apart in 
a smile which he treasured in his memory. 
That smile, those guileless eyes, made his 
heart leap, and sent the blood rushing to his 
cheeks. But her heart did not leap, nor did 
she blush. She did not realize the ardour of 
his gaze, and he knew it. " Would to Heaven 
she would look down when I look at her ! ' 
he thought. He had already watched long for 
her to look down. 

They had been walking in the meadows 
at A lderdale, meadows lately cleared of grass, 
and lying in emerald patches on the hill-sides 
and near the beck. The August heat had 
tired them, and at last Molly sat down on the 
step of a stile overhung with rowans, Brun- 
skill taking the topmost rail a little above 
her. The beck ran almost at their feet, the 



ALDERDALE. 



sparkle of its eddies belying the drowsiness 
of its murmur, its opposite banks rising 
steeply from pasture to bent, from bent to 
ling, whose purple blozv lay in a sultry haze 
against the sky. Two fields away, just 
where the valley was narrowest, the old 
Grange stood, sunk amid the abundant 
foliage of sycamores, oaks, alders, and wild 
cherries, above which its blue smoke lazily 
curled. Here a bridge spanned the beck, its 
ivy-hung arch reflected in one of the deep 
brown sun-flecked pools which made the 
Whern dear to trout-fishers ; and in front of 
the house, sheltered, warm, and fragrant, lay 
Molly's garden, gay now with purple iris, 
tiger-lilies, and double stocks, its borders 
edged with tortoise-stones from the river, its 
paths finialed with bushes of box and southern- 
wood. The front-door and the lattices of the 
windows in their heavy mullions were all set 
wide open for sun and scented air to steal in. 
Above the stocks hummed honey-laden bees. 



6 JULIET. 

A dog drowsed on the hot door-step. Old 
Tamar Verity, Mat Murdock's housekeeper, 
plodded in and out in her clogs. Once she 
went down to the water-side, and standing 
under a barberry tree that was already tasselled 
with red-gold flower, shaded her eyes with 
her hand, and looked across the fields to the 
stile where Mr. Brunskill and Mollv sat. As 
she looked, she smiled, and then returned to 
her work with much nodding of her head. 
Evidently, what she had seen pleased her. 
She walked up the path again with an air of 
deep thought, and on the step paused a 
moment, counting three on her fingers and 
speaking aloud. 

" It's three whole years this hay-making 
since the lass gave up her schooling, and 
that the masters been coming here, court- 
ing her. Does she ken, or doesn't she 
ken, what brings him ? She's allers the 
same with every one. I'd fain give the 
master a lift to speak before Noll comes 



ALDERDALE. 



home. She thinks a deal of Noll. Lasses 
are so daft." 

Meanwhile, Brunskill was happily en- 
lightening Molly's ignorance. 

''Mr. Gliddon and Laybourne were friends 
at Caius," he said. " Gliddon took a Fellow- 
ship and lived a scholar's life, with the pro- 
mise of the excellent living his father held. 
Laybourne was a poor tutor, minus friends or 
prospects, and married a governess. They 
had eight children, as you know, all hand- 
some, clever, and high-spirited. But it 
became impossible for Laybourne to main- 
tain them on one hundred and fifty pounds a 
year. Sickness came, and Mrs. Laybourne 
and Ted became delicate. One day, when 
the pinch was at its hardest, Laybourne wrote 
to Gliddon, simply explaining his position. 
That letter created a revolution in Mr. Glid- 
don's mind — it must have verged on despair. 
He followed the only course that occurred to 
him. For the first time he compared their 



8 JULIET. 

positions.. That day he sent him a cheque 
for one hundred pounds, as a loan which he 
never afterwards treated but as a gift, and the 
same week he obtained the consent of the 
Caius trustees and the Bishop of Storminster 
to an exchange of livings with Laybourne 
on his father's death. The old man only 
lived a few years, and then, perfectly as 
a matter of course, Mr. Gliddon gently 
insisted upon Laybourne going to Marsh- 
lands, giving up without perceptible regret 
his cherished circle of Cambridge friends, 
and settling contentedly in this out-of-the- 
world place." 

Brunskill's voice had gradually dropped. 
When it ceased there was silence. Molly 
held her breath, scarcely daring to move, lest 
she should shake the tears down her cheeks. 
They had sprung to her eyes involuntarily, 
and now glistened with self-confessing bright- 
ness ; she knew not what to do. But Brun- 
skill knew. He drew out his handkerchief. 



ALDERDALE. 



and passed it to her, smiling. At that smile, 
supremely sweet, yet whimsical in its intelli- 
gence, she gave a sob, dashing away the 
handkerchief with one hand and the tears 
with the other. 

" It makes me cry," she said, half in scorn 
of herself, half in appeal, which she neverthe- 
less knew was not needed. 

" I understand," he said. 

" It is wonderful," she said ; " such things 
are beautiful. How much goodness there is 
in the world ! " 

He smiled, but took care not to disturb 
this simple faith. To him it seemed that 
" the rarity of Christian charity " shone from 
a quagmire of self-interest, but Molly's world 
was Wherndale, and her simplicity precious 
as gold to him. 

" Mr. Quin, too, is good, but his kind- 
ness to Noll costs him no self-denial," said 
Molly. 

" Yes, he is good. - He will do his best 



io JULIET. 

for Noll, but he is a sort of hobbv for him. 
Having no son of his own, you see, and only- 
one daughter, he has taken him up as a sub- 
ject for self-gratification. It is very natural, 
since the lad happens to have his own talent 
for painting. Juliet Laybourne was very 
jealous of his good fortune until their own 
befel." 

4< I don't wonder, when he was onlv a car- 
penter's son and she the vicar's daughter. 
I wish I had seen Miss Juliet Laybourne." 

"Why?" asked Brunskill. 

" Noll has some sketches of her, and she 
looks so strange, not beautiful, but uncommon. 
He talks of her, too." 

u She never allowed him to sketch her so 
long as they were in bitter poverty. She was 
a girl who loved and hated with equal in- 
tensity. She loved her brother Ted as pas- 
sionately as she hated Noll for his good 
prospects. I never saw such a change in 
any one as in her when she realized what Mr. 



ALDERDALE. 1 1 



Gliddon had done for them. Until then, she 
had been fascinating through her brilliant 
cleverness, and perversity, and defiance, 
which one felt were saturated with sadness ; 
afterwards she sparkled into genuine happi- 
ness, and became absolutely charming. But 
she was, and always will be, an enigmatical 
woman." 

" Her brother Ted is dead, is he not ? ' 
" Yes, and from what her mother writes 
to Miss Gliddon, Juliet's heart well-nigh died 
with him. I often wonder what will become 
of Juliet Laybourne. We were always 
mutually interested in each other." 

" Was she inquisitive about you ? ' Molly 
asked. 

" That was her woman's prerogative." 
" It is one I, too, exercise." 
" Do you ? " he said, and laughed ; but 
immediately afterwards he sighed, and she 
felt she had touched a tender point, and was 
sorry. 



i 1 JULIET. 

u Let us go home," she said ; but she 
made no move, and he fathomed the sug- 
gestion at its true value, as a change of 
subject. 

"It is a pity to curtail pleasant things," he 
said. 

11 Oh, yes, I don't want to go," she said 
quickly ; " I'm not nearly tired of our talk, and 
it is so lovely here. Are you not very fond 
of Alderdale, Mr. Brunskill ? " 

" Very." 

" I thought you were, you come so often. 
So am I ; I love it very dearly. Indeed, who 
could help loving it, especially a day like this. 
Even Noll, who has travelled so much, says 
he never saw a dearer old place for a sum- 
mer day." 

She uttered these last words slowly, and, 
bending forward, pulled a bunch of burnet 
growing so near the stile that it had escaped 
the scythe. Had he seen her face at that 
moment, he would have perceived a blush 



ALDERDALE. 1 3 



suffuse it, and a glimmer of more than happi- 
ness beneath her half-dropped eyelids ; but he 
neither saw nor thought of looking. To him, 
Noll Ormrod was her cousin, her old play- 
fellow and schoolfellow, and affected him with 
no sense of danger ahead. Relationship pre- 
cluded more, and the very brilliancy of Noll's 
prospects would have made the idea prepos- 
terous in his opinion. Though a dalesman, 
Noll was no longer of the dale. Mr. Quin, to 
whom the Church House at Moorhead be- 
longed, and who was one of the popular artists 
of the day, had discovered in him the pos- 
session of talent similar to his own, and was 
educating him with the intention of eventual 
adoption. In a year or two his star would 
set in Moorhead, to rise in Mr. Quin's brilliant 
town life of art, fashion, and fame. That 
Noll should think of falling in love with 
Molly, or Molly think of Noll as more dear 
than any one on earth, would naturally, and 
apart from his personal feeling, have seemed 



i 4 JULIET. 

to Brunskill nothing short of a catastrophe. 
But it was precisely one of those catastrophes 
which happens every day in this perplexed 
and perplexing- world. 




^J x c2^ 



CHAPTER II. 

MOLLY. 

Molly was a mere child when she came to 
Alderdale to live with her uncle. The long- 
journey from Hipsley into Wherndale was un- 
dertaken the day after her father's funeral, a 
day in the depths of winter when snow lay on 
the hills, andthere was the quiet of a gathering 
storm in the air. Mat was confident they 
could reach home before the storm, but when 
they came to the moors it was heavy travel- 
ling. He was fuddled by his frequent potations 
at the inns they had passed, and they sud- 
denly found themselves in the midst of a 
blinding whirl of flakes when ten miles from 



1 6 JULIET. 

any other shelter than that of a wall or shoot- 
ing-butt. Their safety depended on the 
instinct of the horse and their being able to 
discern the gates leading into each lotment. 
Two of these they passed in safety, after 
hard work in clearing the snow to admit of 
their opening ; then they became stunned by 
the force of the wind and the stinging rush 
of the storm. For a few minutes the horse 
struggled bravely, then stood still, and Mat, 
wrenching out the whip, gave it a savage 
cut that sent it wildly plunging on some 
feet, after which it staggered and suddenly 
dropped, exhausted. As it did so, Molly 
shot out over its head, but immediately 
picked herself up without having uttered 
a sound, and stood staring at Mat as he 
leisurely descended with the reins still in 
his hands, and a phlegm which seemed 
to denote this as the ordinary method of 
stopping a horse. He returned her stare 
with a smile that turned her cold by its 



MOLL Y. 1 7 



mixture of abject fear and taunting astonish- 
ment. 

" Thee'rt a spirity young witch," he said. 
"If we're to die here, thee'll die game — - 
gamier nor I, I lay ; only just close your eyes 
first. Thee'rt all eyes with that black hood 
round thy face, and they're a deal too like 
thy father's for my fancy. Aren't you 
feared, lass ? " 

" Not much," said Molly. " Must we 
walk now ? " 

Mat was walking round the horse, kick- 
ing it indiscriminately, as it lay panting with 
frothy mouth. 

"The old mare'll die," he said; "I'm 
going to walk, though where, devil knows. 
This is his business, truly, and he only kens 
where it'll land us. You can please your- 
self between walking and sitting in the 
trap. It'll never snow that up ; you'd be 
warm in the hay in the bottom, and 
there's a snack of meat and bread I'd leave 

VOL. I. 2 



1 8 JULIET. 

thee. To-morrow I'd come and yoke another 
horse." 

As he spoke he did not look at her, and, 
child though she was, she distrusted the 
alternative he most encouraged. She looked 
speculatively round her. Nothing but snow, 
and silence but for the panting of the horse. 
That sound would gradually cease, and she 
imagined night coming on and dense dark- 
ness, and herself alone with the dead brute, 
which she would never be able to believe 
was dead and unlikely to begin to struggle. 
Some presentiment assured her of the danger 
of staying and falling asleep there. She 
thought, with a sob, of her father's strong- 
protective arms, but, as they were no longer 
there, bravely determined to judge and act 
for herself. 

" I'll walk too," she said, lifting up her 
frock with quiet resolution. 

And they started, well apart each from 
the other. 



MOLL Y. 19 



Happily, the short day was now drawing 
to sunset, and the snow ceased. As dark 
fell they reached a wall, from whence they 
looked down into the valley. The air was 
full of the roar of the flooded river, and, 
directly below, a light was twinkling amid 
the sycamore trees round Alderdale. To- 
wards it they plunged, surmounting the walls 
by the great drifts reared against them, and 
scarcely conscious of more than that the 
twinkling light heralded warmth, shelter, and 
safety. Just before crossing the calf-garth, 
Mat amazed Molly by proposing to carry 
her. 

" Not now ; no ! " she said. 

He looked down at her, feeling that she 
had comprehended his motive. 

" Devil take thee!" he muttered. " Thee'rt 
more fay nor canny. Any man or woman 
kens I couldn't have carried thee through 
them drifts." 

Then a door opened. She saw a great 



ao JULIET. 

wainscoted kitchen, ruddy with leaping flames 
on the hearth ; a woman took her up, there 
was a noise in her ears, a dancing mist all 
round, and she fainted. 

Such was Molly Murdock's coming home 
to Alderdale. 

But she had established her character in 
Mat's opinion. He never liked but always 
feared her, and, except when drunk, let her 
alone. As years passed, it became more and 
more his habit to be drunk, and the struggle 
between the two opposite tendencies of drink 
and thrift made life hard at Alderdale. 
It would have been impossible for Molly to 
have thriven in such an atmosphere but for 
Mat's respect for Tamar Verity, who was too 
thrifty and managing to be dispensed with. 
He would have married her to save her wa^e 
and clip her independence, but that she 
scoffed at, being: anything; but a fool. Alder- 
dale was a curious old house ; and one of its 
antiquities was an oaken bedstead, built into 



MOLL Y. 2 1 



the wall of the parlour, and enclosed by 
two panelled oak doors, the interior white- 
washed, with a sloping ceiling formed by the 
stairs, and a niche in the wall for a candle- 
stick. Into this Molly was thrust by Tamar 
when Mat was seen coming down to the 
bridge tipsy from a market or a fair, and 
experience had taught them that it was not 
then safe for her to be within reach of his 
hands or voice. The legend attached to the 
bedstead made him shun it. Treasure had 
been found there ; a man murdered his 
master to gain possession of it, and it was 
said the master sometimes lay there still, 
a bloody ghost. But Tamar, who did 
not believe in the supernatural, used it 
as a lumber closet ; and Molly, who feared 
nothing so much as a drunkard, would run 
and clamber in among the moth-eaten hair 
boxes and a great brass milk-kettle, and one 
or two musty pillows, condemned from use by 
being stuffed with pigeons' feathers, and so, 



22 JULIET. 

lying perdu, with closed doors, would sit 
nursing her knees, listening to the rats, and 
sometimes fancying she saw the ghost, while 
Mat went staggering up and down the house 
before reeling off to the lang-settle and be- 
sotted slumbers. 

These were experiences which Tamar 
could not avoid for Molly, but her straight- 
forward intrepidity secured her counter- 
balancing advantages in her daily schooling 
at Moorhead, and the half-holidays spent in 
lakijig with her cousins. When Molly grew 
up, Mat gave Tamar notice to leave, saying 
that Molly could do the work now. This at 
first struck Tamar dumb. Then she burst 
into opposition, but finding stubborn indif- 
ference opposed to invective, she went to 
Moorhead to confabulate with his sister, 
Mrs. Ormrod, who would, she knew, take 
her side, if only for the sake of not taking 
Mat's. Mrs. Ormrod was greatly amazed 
when she heard her errand, not so much at 



MOLLY. 23 



Mat's plan as at Tamar having failed to carry 
her point. She returned with her, and quickly 
subdued him by the simple process of giving 
him " a bit of her mind." In her opinion, 
there was no justice in shackling Molly with 
the work of a farm when her tidy fortune 
made her independent of more than a roof 
from any of them ; and she was convinced 
that if Anthony had not gone so suddenly 
with spasms at the heart, he would have left 
his child to her care, in the carpenter's bonny 
cottage at Moorhead, where there were the 
advantages of sobriety, prosperity, honesty, 
and a family. Mrs. Ormrod spoke strongly, 
and spared him neither accusation nor in- 
sinuation. She was certain that Mat had 
destroyed Anthony's will, in order to obtain 
control of Molly's minority. There had been 
no will forthcoming after his death, though 
her husband had witnessed the signature of 
one whose conditions were not favourable to 
Mat. She suspected that Molly's money 



24 JULIET. 

was feeding risky speculations towards re- 
establishing at Alderdale a prosperity which 
no strain at thrift could accomplish, so long 
as there was a deeper strain on bottles and 
barrels. 

To Noll, Molly's advent had been a god- 
send. His brothers were unequal to his 
exactions as a genius, and unimpressed by 
his good prospects and the importance they 
engendered. Molly fell at once into the toils, 
confessed that Jocky was too rough and Billy 
a softie, and never wearied of details relating 
to himself and his plans. Nor was it un- 
natural that he should value her artistic worth, 
and be stimulated to particular effort when 
she was his model. This she was always 
ready to be. She would don or doff anything 
he wished, would assume any attitude he 
fancied, and never fail in brightness and good 
humour. When he went to Antwerp, and 
thence to Paris, just about the time of her 
leaving school, she missed him more than 



MOLLY. 25 



words could express, and his holidays were 
her halcyon days of content unspeakable. 
He would do and say things which thrilled 
her at the time, and were cherished in her 
inmost heart. In his absence there were 
certain stiles through which she never passed 
without imagining he was again there, that 
she felt the touch of his hand, or saw his eyes 
bent upon her ; certain gates where they had 
trysted, which she never opened without a 
thought of what her happiness would be 
when they trysted there again. At such 
times the tenderest of lights dawned in her 
soft eyes, her colour would come and go, she 
moved with so buoyant a step that she seemed 
to feel only air around her, and to have wings 
to her actions as well as to her thoughts. 
Old Tamar Verity saw all this, and, being a 
calm spectator, she saw more ; but she said 
nothing. She believed in things being allowed 
to take their own course ; a climax must come, 
and she could not avert it. Sometimes, how- 



26 JULJET. 

ever, she could scarcely hold her tongue for 
impatience at the general daftiness of folks. 
Why did not the master speak, and bring 
Molly to her senses ? Then that shaffling 
Noll would find himself ousted, and Molly 
would learn what straightforward sweetheart- 
ing was. She would not confess to ; any 
inward qualms as to this being the result of 
the climax ; in her opinion, none but a fool 
would prefer Noll to Gilbert Brunskill. I 

Thus matters rested until Noll left Paris. 
He came home for two months that summer, 
devoted his time to sketching, and sketched 
chiefly in the vicinity of Alderdale ; the ap- 
pearance of his white umbrella perched on 
the hillside acting irresistibly on Molly; and 
causing her to snatch up her hood and run to 
join him the moment her work was done. 

11 Eh, goodness me ! " thought Tamar, one- 
day, after having watched this proceeding, 
and strained in vain to see under the umbrella. 
t { There he is at it again ; and there's the 



MOLLY. 27 



master a bit higher up th' dale, whipping the 
beck this bright morning for the sake of 
dropping in here to tea. And I don't believe 
the lassie knows why he drops in, and I doubt 
me if Noll knows rightly what brings himself 
to Alderdale with his paints and trap-sticks. 
She'll laugh first because t'one can't get his 
picture to his liking, and then she'll laugh 
again because t'other's caught no trout. But 
it'll none be so long ; she'll find out what fish 
the master wants — a lassie in a pink-sprigged 
cotton gown ; and then it'll be aye to him, my 
certie, all of a hush with her soft eyes down." 
Molly, in her pink-sprigged cotton gown, 
was a bewitching figure. She was fond of 
touches of bright colour, and of Mowers stuck 
in her brooch or w T aistband. Her face could 
not now be said to be all eyes, even in depre- 
ciation by Mat, but her eyes were still un- 
usually big, and as deep as a sunny tarn. 
When she laughed there were dimples in her 
cheeks. At this time she laughed a good 



28 JULIET. 

deal, a low, haunting - laugh of sincerest plea- 
sure and joy. Her nature was highly san- 
guine. She could not meet a trouble half 
way, and accepted her uncle s churlishness as 
a matter of course. She never obtruded her 
gayest spirits on him, but reserved them for 
her many friends, permitting nothing to damp 
the supreme happiness of being loved and 
admired for her own sake. She would ^o to 
Moorhead, and give a bright word or glance 
to every one whom she met ; at the Vicarage 
Miss Gliddon always bestowed upon her a 
warm kiss ; she would put her arms round 
Tamar's neck, and never dream of a rebuff; 
and she would run out to meet Brunskill or 
Noll with equal lavishment of a saucy curtsey 
or flower ready dressed for the button-hole. 
It seemed to them, when she gave the flowers, 
that it was a matter of mere mischief, and its 
acceptance one of pure indifference. Hut this 
was not so. She would pluck Brunskill's 
with a careless snap, but Noll's was lingered 



MOLL Y. 



2 9 



over, and many rejected before she found one 
to suit her. Their ignorance was, however, 
balanced by hers, for she did not know that, 
while Noll's presently withered and fell, Brun- 
skill's was often placed, still fresh, between 
the leaves of his pocket-book. 




CHAPTER III 



AMONG THE WILD ROSES. 



Brunskill, whipping the beck that day in 
the sunshine of an unclouded June sky, was 
too deep sunk in thought to realize that the 
rainy promise of the morning in which he 
started from Moorhead had failed, and to feel 
himself ridiculous. Hay-time in Wherndale 
was always holiday-time; the lads were wanted 
to drive the sledges, the lasses to rake the 
grass into swathes, or toss it into the sunny 
dishevelment that cajoled it into hay. The 
fields were then thronged with bands of sun- 
burnt workers, laughing and talking from the 
moment the dew dried until that when the sun 



AMONG THE WILD ROSES. 31 

sank behind the hills ; and the school-house at 
Moorhead was empty and silent, but for the 
unheeded bees that took their lesson in the 
perplexity of mundane affairs presented by 
the inside of a window-pane. Brunskill was 
glad to leave the school-room behind. He 
wanted to be in the open air, to be leisurely, 
yet employed, and to think; so he strolled 
across the fields to his favourite point from 
which to begin his angling, and proceeded to 
whip the beck unwearyingly up and down. 
His whole height was visible in the limpid 
brown pools, and he was a man of noticeable 
height ; his figure stalwart, well proportioned, 
and well built, his head planted firmly above 
a rounded throat, the compact cut of his hair 
and abundant dark beard adding massiveness 
to a face whose every feature was at once 
square and clear cut to a degree that might 
have been uncompromising, but for the ex- 
pression of tenderness which redeemed them 
from possibility of less than attractiveness. 



32 JULIET. 

He was only roused from his pre-occupation 
when his line caught in a dipping branch, or 
when it became necessary to balance himself 
for a leap from one rock to another ; never by 
the suspicion of a bite. However, as he had 
no particular wish for a bite, he was enjoying 
himself, and so were the trout, as they basked 
in sunny crevices and watched him. 

His thoughts were wholly of Molly. He 
had now saved sufficient to authorize him in 
asking her to be his wife ; the place and 
manner of that asking occupied him absorb- 
ingly, making him alternately dreamy and 
impatient. He could not understand his im- 
patience. It seemed preposterous that he, 
who had been patient so long, could not be 
so a little longer ; yet it was undeniable that 
he was suddenly feeling an uneasiness, a 
prompting to haste and precipitation, which 
was utterly foreign to his experience. Pre- 
sently these mastered him, and he could no 
longer endure his torpid occupation. Wind- 



AMONG THE WILD ROSES. 33 

ing in his line, he concealed it and his empty 

basket among the alders, and then started to 

walk towards the head of the dale for the sake 

of wholesome exercise. When he returned, 

it was tea-time, and he went on to the bridge 

with the intention of crossing it and having 

his tea at the Grange, in hopes of securing a 

stroll with Molly afterwards. 

He stood a moment on the bridge, looking 

dreamily into the garden, and scanning the 

door and windows of the house in expectation 

of seeing Molly's brown head or white hood 

in one or the other. But as he stood, there 

came from below a sudden burst of laughter 

and voices, and going to the parapet, he 

looked over. There was Molly, balancing 

herself a-tiptoe on a stone round which 

flashed a babbling eddy of water, gathering 

wild roses from branches which Noll, from 

the bank above, was guiding to her reach 

with his mahl-stick. She was looking up at 

him and laughing, her head hanging back, 
vol 1. 3 



34 JULIET. 

her brown hair ruffled low on her forehead, 
her arms bare to the elbow, and her dress 
tilted high round her ankles, its pink sprigs 
vying with the flowers at which she was 
pulling ; the whole sweet, bright picture in 
full sunlight, and unflecked by ai y shadow- 
save that of rose-leaves. 

Brunskill felt his own purpose suddenly 
checked, not, however, by any presentiment 
of evil or twinge of jealousy, but by her 
lieht-heartedness. It seemed to him that she 
must still be heart-whole, since she could be 
so captivatingly gay. Had she been in love, 
she must surely have been more thoughtful. 

He determined then and there not to go 
in to tea, and not to come again in hopes 
of speaking to her until Noll was gone — to 
wait, in fact, until he could have her to him- 
self, and win her slowly to more seriousness 
and shyness. He did not try to persuade 
himself that she would have been both serious 
and shy had it been he who was helping 



AMONG THE WILD ROSES. 35 



her to gather her nosegay, and thus gain 
encouragement to remain. The question 
occurred to him, but was at once dismissed 
with a sigh. Then he turned, and went 
home. 

When Molly had gathered as many roses 
as she could hold, she began to reward Noll 
for his trouble by pelting him with leaves. 
She was in wild spirits. Ormrod did not 
remember ever having seen her absolutely 
heedless and perverse, and now she was both ; 
neither had he before seen her look so pretty ; 
her dishevelment suited her face to perfec- 
tion, her attitude set off her figure. As he 
looked down, catching glimpses of her be- 
tween the boughs, he once or twice felt a 
rush of choking emotion to his heart, a long- 
ing to have his arms around her waist, 
and feel her velvety cheek against his. She 
had piqued him to-day. When he came in 
the morning he knew he particularly wanted 
to see her ; he had had news, and cared to 



36 JULIET. 



o 



discuss them with no one but her. He had 
hoisted his umbrella as usual in a conspi- 
cuous position, but she only appeared for a 
moment in the doorway and waved her 
hand. At dinner-time he ran down to the 
house, but she was busy tossing the butter, 
and would not promise to be quick. All the 
afternoon he had watched for her more 
than painted ; indeed, at last he became so 
feverishly tantalized that work was impos- 
sible, and he had packed it up and thrown 
ihimself upon the grass, feeling half inclined 
to go home in dudgeon, but lacking the reso- 
lution to forego the pleasure of seeing her 
•come at last. When she came it was nearly 
tea-time, and he was so cross that she stared, 
pouted, and ran down again to the beck. 
For a moment he hesitated what to do, 
whether to follow or teach her a lesson by 
going ; but inclination prompted him to stay, 
and inclination was his ruler. He got up, 
put his hands in his pockets, and leisurely 



AMONG THE WILD ROSES. 37 

strolled down the brant, finding her in diffi- 
culties, and looking lovely in her humility. 
He rushed for his mahl-stick, and during the 
next few minutes realized that he had more 
to say than he had had the slightest inten- 
tion of saying six hours before. The question 
now was how to reach her and make her listen. 

11 Molly," he said, peering between the 
boughs, " come up, that's a good girl. There's 
something I must tell you." 

" Is it good or bad ? ' 

M Good — for me." 

" Then I guess it." 

" That's ridiculous. You may have a 
good guess, but it'll leave you far short of the 
truth." 

"You can tell me. I'll listen." 

" I won't tell you while you're there. 
Come up. I want you near me ; I want to 
see you." 

" You can see me," said she, provokingly, 
arranging herself accordingly. 



3 8 JULIET. 

" Molly, what possesses you to-day ? ' he 
cried, exasperated beyond measure, and be- 
coming each moment more ardently deter- 
mined to carry his point. " Don't you mean 
to come home for tea ? Are you going to 
spend your evening there ? " 

" I'm going home this way ; there are 
hippins," she said, turning. 

He knew she would be across in a 
moment if he were not quick, so, seizing an 
alder branch, he swung himself down beside 
her, took her in his arms, and sprang back to 
the bank. When he released her, and she 
stood beside him flushed and subdued, he 
bent and kissed her lips, then took her face 
between his hands. 

" How dare you thwart me ? ' he said, in 
a suppressed voice. 

She did not answer or move, but she 
trembled so much that she could scarcely 
stand, and he, perceiving this, again encircled 
.her, drawing her to him with one hand, while 



AMONG THE WILD ROSES. 39 

with the other he caressed her hair, pretend- 
ing to smooth it, but as yet sufficiently self- 
possessed to avoid doing so, for he admired 
it as it was. 

" You knew I would have my own way 
in the end, Molly, if you provoked me. Did 
you want me to have my own way ? ' 

11 No," she said, struggling a little. His 
opinion of women and their ways instantly 
prompted him to press still closer to her ; a 
little struggle to be free must mean coyness, 
and for that the antidote was encourage- 
ment. He wished to encourage her, without, 
however, having any clear impression to what 
it must lead. 

But Molly was recovering herself, and 
although it was delicious to be so near him, 
it was not wise, she scarcely even thought 
right. Since he would not understand a 
gesture, she must speak. Her firm demand 
so much surprised him that he yielded at 
once, and she went first tip the bank. 



4 o JULIET. 

" You have not heard what I had to sav," 
he said. 

"No, but you have only to tell me." 

This calmness piqued him, and he did not 
speak until they reached the gate on to the 
bridge. Then, as she put out her hand to 
open it, he intercepted her, and stood so close 
to her aeain that she could not move. 

" Molly," he said, " I am going to Rome 
for three years." 

There was silence. She neither laughed 
nor cried, nor looked up. He watched her 
with cruel intentness, but could not have 
sworn either that she coloured or turned pale. 
She was perfectly still, keeping her eyes down, 
and scarcely, as it seemed to him, breathing. 
This was totally different to what he had 
expected. 

" Will you miss me, Molly ? ' he said 
feeling the more every moment in which she 
showed no emotion that such was necessary 
to his happiness. 



AMONG THE WILD ROSES. 41 



" We shall all miss you," she said, ap- 
parently without effort. 

" But you ? " 

" Of course ; only you have already been 
away so much. Will you open the gate, 
please ? " 

For a moment he inwardly vowed he 
would not open the gate, or do anything 
reasonable which nwht be suggested in this 
matter-of-fact way. But she had now schooled 
herself to look at him, and that look was so 
unconcerned and steady that it staggered even 
him. His confidence failed, and feeling that 
she was utterly baffling, he did as she asked. 
Moreover, Tamar was just then heard calling 
them in to tea, and as she could see them 
from the door, he thought it expedient, on 
every account, to desist from further persis- 
tency. He did not want any action of his 
in such a matter blazoning up and down the 
Dale ; another day he must choose his oppor- 
tunity better, in hopes of finding her more 



42 



JULIET. 



reasonable. On the bridge he detained her 
by some irrelevant remark. He was again 
perfectly composed. It would have been 
quite contrary to his principles to have shown 
her less indifference than she showed him. 





CHAPTER IV. 



TEA AT ALDERDALE. 



But it was impossible that this indifference 
should last. Love on Molly's part, pique on 
Ormrod's, drew them together each day more 
closely. Ormrod refrained from going to 
Alderdale until he was certain that she would 
be more amenable, and his absence frightened 
and perplexed her. She watched for him by 
day, and at night lay awake, going over in her 
mind every detail of that scene by the river ; 
one moment thrilled and trembling at the 
remembrance of his close clasp, the next re- 
morseful over her rebuff; again made miserable 
by the thought that he would soon be gone, 



44 J U LI El. 

and finding no consolation in the reflection 
that she had acted rightly. Where was the 
advantage in having acted rightly ? She could 
not endure the fear that she had completely 
estranged him. The time was so short now, 
and she felt that if they did not part as 
friends, her heart would break. Rome was 
as the Antipodes to her, three years a life- 
time ; the words recurred to her like a death- 
knell ; when once he was gone he would be 
out of reach and her love unavailing, and 
surely love was not meant to be unavailing. 
She told herself without any sensation of 
shame that she loved him ; the plea of friend- 
ship was a poor plea, and would not satisfy 
her. She saw nothing to be ashamed of, 
because it seemed to her simple soul that he 
had already shown his love ; such advances 
as he had made could only be construed to 
mean one thing, and she, in her folly and 
pride, had repulsed them, and pretended that 
they were of no value to her. The more she 



TEA AT ALDERDALE. 45 



thought, the more she hungered for him, and 
the more she wept to herself when he still 
did not come. One day she started for Moor- 
head, determined to find him and make him 
see what she was suffering ; but when half- 
way, she paused, feeling suddenly that she 
could not, must not, go any further. If she 
had sinned she must bear the consequences, 
but it was his place to come to her, not hers 
to go to him, and she was fearful of betraying 
herself to others, conscious that her face was 
clouded by anxiety, and pale for want of 
dreamless rest. Moreover, she knew she 
had not sinned. Good impulses had moved 
her to act as she had. Had she thought only 
of herself, she would have yielded to his 
caresses, but thoughts of him and of reason 
and justice had influenced her. It might be 
that these had now occurred to him too, and 
that he acknowledged their truth and the 
necessity for self-control. If so, she must 
also be self-controlled, and never make it 



46 JULIET. 

harder for him by showing him how hard it 
was for her. 

Ormrod, however, had no conscientious 
scruples. He was a flirt ; had had affaires 
du coeur with matter-of-fact Flemings and 
piquant Parisians, and held women's hearts in 
light esteem. He had no intention of marry- 
ing for many years, and certainly would never 
marry Molly Murdock, though she was so 
pretty, and, as he could not help believing, 
unfortunately fond of him. But then so many 
girls were fond of him ; he could not prevent 
their spontaneous affection, he could only get 
out of the way when it began too urgently to 
demand reciprocation. Had he been quite 
certain that Molly was fond of him, he would 
not have troubled himself about her ; but she 
had baffled him, and he pondered it over in 
his mind, and felt that he must probe her a 
little more deeply before he could be certain. 
It might not be prudent to give her a cousinly 
kiss when he went away, still less to write to 



TEA AT ALDERDALE. 47 



her or ask her to write to him. He forgot 
that he had already given her a kiss which 
was more than cousinly, and urged her to a 
confession which he had wished to be pas- 
sionate. Neither could he think calmly that 
Brunskill would win her. If her heart were 
not given to Brunskill, it would be best that 
she should fully realize to whom it was given. 
Eventually, when " love's young dream " had 
expired, she might marry Brunskill and be 
tolerably happy ; but it was above all things 
expedient that a woman should know her own 
heart, and not risk sin and sorrow by uncon- 
scious perjury. It was his creed that women 
should confess themselves to their husbands, 
acknowledge their peccadilloes in the past, and 
swear unswerving fealty for the future. Men, 
however, were not bound to confess any- 
thing, their peccadilloes were mere flea-bites ; 
the weaker vessel must resist temptation, 
the stronger might fall and be free from 
condemnation. 



4 8 fULIET. 

On the following Sunday was to be held 
the monthly evening service at Alderdale, 
which took the place of service in church, as 
more convenient for the people at the dale- 
head. At these, Brunskill was in the habit of 
officiating for Mr. Gliddon, who was thus 
spared a long walk which he disliked, while 
it was secured to others who enjoyed it. He 
and Miss Gliddon generally walked there 
together after afternoon school at Moorhead, 

o 

arriving in time for tea, and as they walked 
they talked. To-day Ormrod was all the way 
some hundred yards ahead of them. He 
knew they were following, but w r as not dis- 
posed to be bored by uncongenial company ; 
he had good reasons for wishing to avoid 
Brunskill, and Miss Gliddon was too in- 
quisitive for convenience. The fact, how- 
ever, of his figure being constantly in sight 
brought him prominentlv into their minds, 
and gave Miss Gliddon an opportunity such 
as she had long wished for, but failed to find, 



TEA AT ALDERDALE. 



for frank speech on a subject very dear to 
her. Yet she scarcely knew what to say now 
that the opportunity had arisen. 

" I shall be glad when Noll is gone," she 
said at last. 

"It will be a good thing for him, this 
study in Rome. Mr. Quin knows better, it 
seems, than to work by halves, "said Brunskill. 

" I shall be glad for the sake of others 
besides himself. He goes too much to 
Alderdale. Mischief may be done before it 
be suspected." 

"Mischief 7" Brunskill repeated, instantly 
taking alarm, as she intended that he should. 
" You don't mean, you cannot, that he would 
dare to trifle with Molly ? ' 

"It could be nothing but trifling," said 
Miss Gliddon, growing more bold ; " I heard 
yesterday by chance that he has constantly 
been there, and she with him. I don't think 
highly of his principles. He may do for 
amusement what she might take in serious 

VOL. I. - 4 



50 JULIET. 

earnest, and only trouble could follow. It is 
out of the question for him to marry her ; I 
expect he will now drift wholly apart from 
natural ties and associations." 

"If he has dared to cause her one un- 
happy thought, he is a pitiful scoundrel," said 
Brunskill. 

Involuntarily, he quickened his steps, as 
though to overtake Ormrod. The sight of him 
swinging along, one hand in his pocket, the 
other carrying a stick, with which he slashed 
at the bracken tops, suddenly filled him with 
irritated rage. He hated to see a man wan- 
tonly cut down lovely and vigorous vegetable 
growth, leaving prone a blade or flower which 
the moment before had stood upright and 
rejoicing in the air and sunshine. Even so 
might the same ruthless hand cut down a 
human flower. As this thought flashed into 
his mind, keenly associated with Molly, his 
flower, his Picciola, he stopped. Miss 
Gliddon stopped too, looking at him 



TEA A T ALDERDALE. 5 1 

in alarm, and found his eyes fixed upon 
her. 

" By heaven ! I wish I had spoken to her 
years ago," he said, in a voice so low that it 
was scarcely audible. 

" I wish you had. Oh, why didn't you ? " 
said she. 

" I wanted something worthy of her ; God 
knows that was it." 

She thought the pain in his voice, the 
resolution of his confession, which seemed to 
be wrung from him under a sense of heinous 
guilt more than of mere regret, terrible. She 
put her hand on his arm, to bring him to him- 
self, and relieve the tension visible in his pale 
face and clenched fists. 

" Let us walk on and hope for the best," 
she said, gently. 

The shock had been greater than she 
expected. He seemed to have had no 
suspicion, no misgiving, no apprehension, 
and she, for long, had had all these, but 



LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 



52 JULIET. 

had not ventured to trench upon his re- 
serve. 

When they reached the Moss, a tract of 
low-lying heather, where the moor-birds bred 
in shelter, they were surprised to see Ormrod 
leave the road, and strike into a path across 
the ling leading to a ridge of rock known as 
the Screes. It was a relief to both of them. 
Brunskill, at least, had felt the prospect of 
sitting down to tea with him at Alderdale 
intolerable, now that his nerves were un- 
strung, his senses sharpened to acute and 
suspicious observation. 

Molly met them at the door, looking her 
own bonny self, but a little pale, Brunskill 
thought, as he held her hand a second longer 
than usual. However, when he named this, 
she smiled, and said it was the heat ; then 
slipped past him and took Miss Gliddon into 
the garden to see a bed of pansies which she 
had raised from seed. Brunskill followed 
them. The pansy-bed was lovely, varying in 



TEA AT ALDERDALE. 53 

shade from white to amber and deepest 
purple, each flower looking like a baby-face 
upturned to the dallying caress of sun and 
breeze. Miss Gliddon stooped to look into 
their golden eyes, turning the stems gently 
between two fingers. 

" They are my favourite flowers," said 
Molly ; " and pansy is such a pretty name, but 
here they call them step-mothers. See," she 
added, gathering one, " there are five petals. 
The single one is the new wife, the two next 
to it are her own children, and these two, the 
lowest, her step-children. It fits nicely, but I 
don't care to think of it in that way." 

" And there is another name — heart's- 
ease," said Brunskill. 

" Oh, I never heard that," she said, look- 
ing up as she knelt. " It, too, is very pretty." 

" It is the lover's name," Miss Gliddon 
said. " Once in the garden of a poet I found 
pansies growing next to love-lies-bleeding, 
and behind both, a row of St. Joseph lilies." 



54 JULIET. 

" The meaning of all that is beyond me," 
said Molly, shaking her head, regretfully. 

" Lilies signify purity. Now, do you see 
how well the three harmonize ? ' 

" But I could never bear to think that 
love lay bleeding." 

" Could you not?" said Brunskill, looking 
down at her as he held* the little gate open 
for them to pass through. There was a new 
tone in his voice, which struck instantly on 
her ear, and she glanced at him with surprise. 
But there was also a new look in his face, and 
her eyes fell again from more than surprise. 

Tea was ready when they went in, and 
Mat got up from the lang-settle, to give them 
a churlish welcome. He was brushed as to 
his clothes, and greased as to his hair, into 
the picture of sleek discomfort ; his coat lay 
folded on the press ready for saruice> and he 
hitched his thumbs into the arm-holes of his 
waistcoat with the intention of appearing to 
command the situation. 



TEA AT ALDERDALE. 55 

" How's Passon ? " he said. 

" Ouite well." said Miss Gliddon. 

" And how's yersel' ? " 

" Still better, if possible." 

"And how do you find yersel', Master," 
said Tamar Verity, bustling in from the dairy 
with cream and a dish of cheesecakes. 

Mat persistently ignored Brunskill when 
Passon or Passon s sister were at hand, and 
Tamar would not have him ignored. He 
was a prime favourite of hers, and she meant 
him to feel welcome at Alderdale, both for 
his own sake and Molly's. These monthly 
services were her red-letter days, far sur- 
passing in interest even sheep-clipping time. 
The previous day was always devoted to 
incessant scrubbing and polishing, and when 
the house was complete she " cleaned hersel'." 

She presented a comely aspect as she sat 

1 

at the head of the table, her cap starched and 
crimped to unique dimensions, a checked 
kerchief pinned across her chest ; and when 



56 JULIET. 

she got up to clash to the fire for more water 
it was seen that she wore clocks and short 
linsey skirts. She always had a great deal to 
say to Miss Gliddon, and to-day conversa- 
tion mainly devolved upon them ; Mat never 
spoke, Brunskill was unusually quiet, and 
Molly only threw in an occasional remark for 
fear of being thought unwell if she gave way 
to pre-occupation. 

Afterwards the kitchen was cleared for 
service ; the table moved into the window, and 
some benches brought in from an out-house. 
Upon these benches the women and children 
sat, while the men sprang, each time they 
rose from their knees, on to various carved 
chests standing against the walls, sitting 
there with their legs dangling in great ease. 
The scene was Arcadian for reverent simpli- 
city, like a leaf taken out of the lives of the 
Pilgrim Fathers. The flagged floor was 
sanded, the walls and ceiling wainscoted, 
the latter being crossed by massive beams, 



TEA AT ALDERDALE. 57 

where Mat chalked his accounts, and from 
which depended lines of dried oaten clap- 
cakes. Now and again, a glint of sunshine 
caught a pewter dish on the de.lf-rack or a 
brass candlestick on the mantelpiece, the 
metal-work of one of the villainous old guns 
slung from a crook in the ceiling or the 
carved door of a cupboard in the wainscot, a 
man's rugged face or the soft cheeks of a 
girl. One lattice of the mullioned window 
was thrown open, and in the pauses of the 
prayers, was heard the murmur of the river. 
The table, against which Brunskill stood, 
was covered with a fair white cloth and 
dressed with Tamar's pots of musk and 
hydrangea. The homeliness of the place 
suited the homeliness of the people, and 
Brunskill did his utmost to make the service 
homely, avoiding repetition, and pouring into 
it as much simple fervour as possible. The 
leading of the hymns devolved upon Molly, 
who had a sweet, clear voice. She stood by 



58 JULIET. 

Miss Gliddon at the other end of the table, 
and Brunskill's eyes rested upon her every 
time he looked up. He was certain she was 
not well, for in addition to the paleness there 
were dark rings round her eyes. Towards 
the end of the second hymn, however, he 
noticed more colour steal into her face, and 
could have sworn that her hands trembled as 
she closed her book. Suspicion rushed upon 
him with overwhelming force. He turned 
and threw a searching glance round, but saw 
no sien of Ormrod. He did not command 
the passage leading from the open door, but 
Molly did, and she had seen Noll steal 
noiselessly in, under cover of the dusk, and 
take up an ambushed position against the 
wall. Moreover, their eyes met ; he nodded 
and smiled, and she quivered into colour 
and nervousness all at once. She forgot to 
find the text ; did not hear a word of the 
brief address ; and led the last hymn in a 
wavering voice, that seemed to reach her 



TEA A T ALDERDALE. 5 9 



own ears across a dream. When Brunskill 
got up from his knees as the people were 
dispersing, she had disappeared. 

Yes, she had disappeared. Ormrod had 
signalled, pointed, and vanished. Instinct 
told her where he was gone, and that he 
wished her to follow. The moment there 
was movement among the congregation she 
slipped out, snatched her hood from its peg 
in passing, and followed him. She found 
him in a little gully fed by a stream that 
loitered down from the Moss, where wild 
cherry-trees clustered thickly. He emerged 
from their shelter to help her to spring up 
the bank from the river, looking, meanwhile, 
cautiously around him. 

" You are sure no one saw you ? " he said. 

" Certain," she answered. 

She wished to be seen as little as he. 
Her happiness was inexpressible, and for his 
eyes alone. She was forgiven, they were again 
friends. He wanted her all to himself; per- 



60 JULIET. 

haps he had reasoned away the inconvenience 
of chill facts, and finding he could not do 
without her, resolved to overcome every 
barrier, and prove himself more than friend ; 
how much more, she dared not whisper even 
to herself. 

" Oh, Noll," she murmured, "you should 
not have come into the passage. I could 
scarcely sing." 

" What ? " he exclaimed. 

" Indeed, I could not." 

The naivete of the admission, an admis- 
sion of whose self-betrayal she was evidently 
unconscious, delighted his keen sense of the 
piquant, and filled him with triumph. 

" Molly, you love me ? ' he said. 

She did not answer, but neither did she 
resist in the slightest degree when he drew 
her to him, and folded her in his arms. She 
never doubted that her emotion was fully 
reciprocated ; the thought did not for a 
moment enter her mind that he was exacting 



TEA AT ALDERDALE. 61 



everything and giving nothing ; that the will 
was not father to the deed, and intended to 
lead to the only honourable climax. How 
was she to realize in that delicious hour 
that it was her affection to which he had 
alluded, not his own ? 

Brunskill, meanwhile, had looked for her 
in vain. Then he questioned Miss Gliddon, 
but she had no clue to her whereabouts ; had 
not seen Ormrod, and suggested that she 
might be upstairs. Presently, when the 
people were gone, he got Tamar to go up- 
stairs and look for her, but of course, uselessly. 

" She'll be setting some of the folk," said 
Tamar, loath to confess to uneasiness. 

He laughed shortly, looking at her as 
though he would penetrate her inmost 
thought, and she resented it. 

" I'm neither innard nor deceiving," she 
said ; " I ken no more than yersel' where the 
lassie is. Wait a bit and she'll turn up." 

But wait there, in the kitchen, he could 



62 JULIET. 

not. Action was necessary. Miss Gliddon 
was gone with other company home, and 
there was no need to hurry. He went out. 

The evening was lovely. The valley 
lay bathed in the sunset glow that deepened 
the folded shadows on the hills. Not a 
sound broke the stillness save the gurgle of 
the river under the alders. But nature's 
peace held no restitution for Brunskill, and 
he loitered on to the bridge under a sense of 
sickening disappointment. He had looked 
forward to a few words with Molly, to a 
little lingering walk at her side through the 
meadows, and instead of these, she was not 
to be found. And his heart was the prey to 
a fear which gathered in heaviness every 
moment. When he got to the Moss without 
having seen any sign of her, he despaired, 
and laying his arms along the top of the 
o-ate, strove to overcome the chill that 
clutched him. A little further on. the road 
dipped into a hollow, where some rowans 



TEA AT ALDERDALE. 63 



hung over a rock cropping out from the 
ling, and in going down it his eye was 
caught by something white under the rowans. 
It was not the gleam of water, there was no 
moon to light on the rock ; involuntarily he 
stepped on to the grassy margin, took a few 
more steps, and then stopped suddenly. 

That glimmer of white was Molly's hood. 
He gazed at it, fascinated. Ormrod and 
she were sitting on the rock. He could hear 
the murmur of their voices ; he saw her draw 
her hand from his and touch a flower in his 
button-hole. He remembered the scene 
beneath the bridge a few days previously, 
to which he had attached no importance. 
Perhaps it had held a deeper meaning than 
he thought ; perhaps he was then urging her 
to this, and she was dallying with him, un- 
certain of herself, thinking perplexedly of 
another, and that other, himself. Supposing 
he had not gone home, but had stayed, gone 
into the house, sat beside her, advanced his 



64 JULIET. 

wish to monopolize her, his desire for her 
affection — what then ? He would fain have 
answered himself to the satisfaction of his 
craving for her consideration, even though it 
might have tortured him with regret ; but 
as he looked at them, he could not. It was 
not Ormrod's air of devotion that impressed 
him, for he knew he had such airs always 
at command, but it was the absence of 
Molly's gay spirits and the abandonment to 
quiet happiness that had taken their place. 

Just then she looked up at Ormrod, and 
he bent down close to her lips. Brunskill 
thought he was going to kiss her, and he 
could not endure the thought. The blood 
rushed to his face, he clenched his hands, 
holding his breath ; but no kiss was ex- 
changed, and he breathed freely again. He 
looked round him with a dazed look, feeling 
as thoueh he had stood there for hours, as 
though he were in another world ; which he 
was. He had been living in a fool's para- 



TEA AT ALDERDALE. 



65 



dise, watching a Picciola grow. He had 
meant to gather the Picciola, but another had 
stepped in. Picciola and paradise were 
gone ; the fool was left. 

" Poor fool ! ' he said, and smiled without 



a sigh. 



A smile comes easiest in self-pity of self- 
deception. 




VOL. I. 




CHAPTER V. 



BRUNSK1LLS MOVE. 



The following day Brunskill went to see 
Miss Gliddon, having evolved from much 
thought, a course of action for himself, but not 
wishing to put it into practice without her 
advice and co-operation. It had struck him 
that Ormrod was acting secretly, and would 
enforce secrecy upon Molly. Now, Brun- 
skill was convinced that there was love- 
making, and resolved that it should be 
acknowledged by Ormrod. He must prove 
himself honourable, or if not honourable, all 
the world of Wherndale should know it. 
It was an uncompromising resolution, but 



BRUNSKILLS MOVE. 67 

would, he considered, place a greater check 
upon Ormrod's unscrupulousness than any- 
thing else : if he had won Molly he must 
keep her, or be known as a scoundrel. 

When he told Miss Gliddon what he had 
seen on the Moss, she expressed no sur- 
prise. She was not surprised, but was 
greatly disposed to blame herself for not 
having foreseen such a catastrophe and tried 
to avert it by cautioning Ormrod or protect- 
ing Molly. 

" I might have known there was danger," 
she said, " and that it would culminate 
during this final visit. She is so pretty 
and so trustful, and has always thought so 
much about him. If only I had got her to 
come and stay with me, as she might have 
done so naturally, he would have been more 
careful, feeling at least that he must be 
straightforward. But I never thought of it." 

11 I wish you would get her to come to 
you now," said Brunskill. - 



68 JULIET. 

" I fear it is too late." 

"In one way, yes; but don't you see, it 
would force him to acknowledge an engage- 
ment ? " 

11 Do you think she would come ? ' 

"She has often come before. She could 
not refuse, and she would be unsuspicious of 
our object ; indeed, she would not imagine for 
a moment that we were in collusion." 

" Do you mean her to tell me what has 
transpired ? " 

11 Yes ; and I mean Ormrod to tell me." 

" How in the world will you accomplish 
that ? I fancy he will avoid you more than 

any of us. He must have seen ' she 

hesitated, looking away. 

" Yes," said Brunskill. 

" Well ? " 

" I shall tell him that I saw them last 
night, and what was naturally to be inferred. 
He will detest me, but that is nothing." 

" I will do my share," said Miss Gliddon. 



BR UNSKILVS MO VE. 69 

It was true that Molly could not refuse 
her invitation, but she was very reluctant to 
accept it, and when she first named it to 
Ormrod, he declared she should not go. 
There was still a week before he was to 
leave for London, and that week he had 
resolved to pass chiefly at Alderdale, not 
having dreamt for a moment that any third 
person would step in with a check move- 
ment. He realized at once what was in- 
volved. It would be impossible to maintain 
mere cousinly familiarity with Molly under 
Miss Gliddon's sharp eyes, when Molly her- 
self had every right to expect more, and 
would be unable to show that she did not. 
Yet he was far from willing to acknowledge 
an engagement with her. The situation was 
already embarrassing. He plunged his hands 
into his pockets, and emitted a low, moody 
whistle, looking apprehensively at Molly, 
who was unconsciously pursuing her knitting 
at his side. A suggestion lay before him, and 



7© JULIET. 

he could not be certain that she would be 
reasonable and see its justice as clearly as 
he did. 

" This is about the most awkward thing 
she could have hit upon ; confoundedly awk- 
ward, I call it," he said. 

" She meant it kindly," said Molly. " But 
it is very disappointing. If only she knew 
about us, I'm sure she would not expect me 
to go. I have been thinking, must I write 
and tell her ? " 

" Tell her what ? " said Ormrod. 

She looked up in surprise and some re- 
proach, a soft blush creeping into her cheeks. 

"About us, you and me," she said again. 
" There is nothing else to tell her that I 
know of; and she is such a good friend of 
mine. I should like her to know." 

" Know what ? My dear Molly, she 
must know what friends we are ; every one 
who has eyes, must. There is no necessity 
to tell her more than that, that I kiss you 



BR UNSKILUS MO VE. 7 1 

and squeeze your hand, for instance. She 
would only say, ' Of course he does.' 

" But it means so much. I can't bear 
to think it does not." 

" You must take it as a matter of course, 
as others will. There is nothing to make a 
fuss over." 

" But people must know why, Noll." 

" Do you think for a moment they won't ? 
There is nothing over which they are sharper 
than things of that kind." 

" Well, then, if I go to the Vicarage, Miss 
Gliddon will see, and probably she will ask me. " 

" What ? She is an inquisitive meddler, 
every one knows." 

u If we are engaged," said Molly, in a low 
voice. 

It struck her at that moment that she was 
not certain if they were. 

" She will not ask you point-blank ; and 
if she did, you must parry her." 

" But I cannot parry any one." 



72 JULIET. 

" She will not ask you," said Ormrod 
again, trying to convince himself that she 
would not, but thinking it highly probable 
that she would. " It will be preposterous for 
us to talk of ourselves as engaged to be mar- 
ried, when marriage will be an impossibility 
for me for many years. I fear, my sweet 
little coz, that we must add to our prayers 
the safe reflection that ' There's many a slip 
twixt cup and lip.' Then if the slip happen, 
we shall be a Icetle prepared." 

" And you can bear to think of it ? " said 
Molly, after a pause. 

44 One must do violence to one's feelings 
in this world," Ormrod said, easily; but im- 
mediately afterwards he unwarily raised his 
eyes to hers, and the troubled wonder in 
them touched him into relenting. 44 Can't 
you take a little teasing ? ' he said. " One 
may venture to jest over improbabilities. But 
all the same, Molly, I think this had better 
remain a secret between you and me." 



BR UNS KILL'S MO VE. 7 3 

" I hate secrets/' she said, vehemently. 

"So do I ; never kept one yet ; but one 
must make a beginning in good ways, and 
this seems to me the best. It will do no 
harm." 

" But if any one asks me ? " 

He laughed impatiently, tugging at his 
moustache, and longing to scold her as a per- 
sistent little goose. It was evident she did 
not see the thing as he saw it, and would 
make a trouble where no trouble was, unless 
he yielded. A few minutes of consideration 
assured him that in the long run it did not 
much signify either way ; he would be at a 
sufficient distance to follow his own inclina- 
tion serenely, if he were careful now not to 
compromise himself too far. 

" Well," he said, " you must tell the 
truth." 

" Then I may tell Miss Gliddon, and then 
you can come all the same." 

" Don't say anything unless she asks you." 



74 JULIET. 

"Oh, I won't ; but I shall be much hap- 
pier, Noll. I could not bear to be deceiving 
any one, could you ? And it is so simple, and 
so natural, I think, don't you, dear ?' 

To this he made no further answer than 
by an awkward laugh ; but as it was accom- 
panied by a caress, she was satisfied, and the 
happiness reflected in her lovely face once 
more bewitched him. 

And so she went to the Vicarage, deter- 
mined in her own mind to take full advantage 
of his permission, and thus secure him the 
right to come as much as he liked ; rinding 
consolation, too, for her restricted liberty in 
the thought that she should be able to see 
him to the very last moment, since she was 
three miles nearer Newbridge Station at the 
Vicarage than at Alderdale. She had no 
suspicion that the arrangement contained 
more than appeared, and neither had Ormrod, 
until Brunskill walked in upon him one morn- 
ing, and asked if he could spare him a few 



BR UNSKILUS MO VE. 7 5 



minutes for conversation. Ormrod had the 
use of one of the rooms at Church House for 
painting when at Moorhead, and it was there 
that Brunskill found him. He was putting 
some finishing touches to a picture, and did not 
turn when he heard Brunskill's voice. Brun- 
skill went up to the easel, and watched his 
work. 

" Do you recognize the place ?' Ormrod 
asked. 

" Well enough," said Brunskill. 

" I shall call it The Wool-Winder, y said 
Ormrod. 

The place represented was the kitchen at 
Alderdale, and against the open window were 
placed two high-backed, carved oak chairs, 
encircled by a skein of wool, from which a 
girl was winding a ball. But the girl was not 
Molly ; and Ormrod, who had regretted that 
fact, was now thankful for it. 

" You'll have heard that I'm off to Rome," 
he remarked. 



76 JULIET. 

" Your father told me. Are you going 
at once ? " 

" I expect an interregnum in Kensington 
— perhaps a couple of weeks or so. Mr. 
Ouin wants to show me about a little, before 
the season's over. I know less of London 
than of Paris." 

" Have you ever met the Mompessons 
yet ? " 

" I met young Mompesson once, he whose 
position is so pleasant, you know ; but I know 
nothing of the others." 

" Do you know that Miss Laybourne is 
his sister's governess ? ' 

" Is she, though ? No, by Jove ! I didn't. 
I may meet her, then, though I don't know 
that I care to. There's a portrait of her in 
that old folio that I came across the other 
day ; you can find it if you like. And, by- 
the-bye, I've a little thing here I thought you 
might value ; I'm giving a few away this 
time. I'd made it up to leave at the school- 



BR UN SKILLS MO VE. 7 7 

house, but you can take it with you. It's 
Molly Murdock, sketched years ago as Pris- 
cilia!' 

As he spoke he crossed the room, and 
took a small canvas from a table, holding it 
out to Brunskill without looking at him, but 
with a peculiar smile of complacency. He 
expected it would be at once taken, but it was 
not. There was silence, and he found him- 
self obliged to look up. The fixed gaze he 
met was so startling that he almost dropped 
his proffered gift. 

"Let it alone just now, will you?' said 
Brunskill. He spoke thickly, and stopped to 
clear his voice. " I came to speak to you," 
he went on. " You may not care that I should 
have that, after you have heard what I have 
to say. It is right that you should know it. 
Ormrod, I saw you and her on the Moss on 
Sunday night." 

" Oh ! did you ? " said Ormrod. " Well ? " 

He turned abruptly, threw the little 



78 JULIET. 

picture again on the table, and returned to 
his easel. Brunskill followed him. 

" You are engaged to her ?' he said. 

" And if I am, what is that to you ? ' 

" You are out-and-out engaged to her ? ' 

" I suppose I am the lucky suitor," said 
Ormrod, slowly ; and when Brunskill did not 
speak, he added, " Upon my word, I'm very 
sorry for you, but it's not a thing one can 
avoid, you see." 

" Remember that I know it for a fact," 
said Brunskill, "and that others will know it. 
She is safe where she is ; you must acknow- 
ledge it." 

" I see now how she has got there," said 
Ormrod. 

He was full of rage, but maintained out- 
ward nonchalance, continuing to put a touch 
here, and another there, with a steady hand. 
Nothing more remained to be said, and 
Brunskill, after a few moments of deep and 
wistful thought, turned to go. Ormrod's sar- 



BR UN SKILL'S MO VE. 7 9 



donic reflection was that he had unwittingly 
taken a good hand, and played it well, but he 
was determined not to show himself duped, 
or otherwise than magnanimous. 

" Pray take the Priscilla" he said, trans- 
ferring his brush to his palette hand, and 
twirling his moustache. 

Brunskill took it, and Ormrod opened the 
door and shook hands with him as he passed. 
He then returned to his work, but, feeling 
generally discomposed, failed to accomplish 
anything satisfactory, and left it. His opinion 
was that he had never been in such a mess in 
his life. He had not anticipated anything 
like this, and until now had not considered 
himself as an engaged man ; but his anger 
was against every one except himself. He 
had been cajoled and duped on every hand, 
and utterly ignored the fact that he had been 
the first to cajole. He vowed again and 
again during that day that he had not patience 
to think of Molly, when she had brought him 



80 . JULIE J. 

into such a quandary ; and yet he thought 
only of her, and at night had so far recovered 
his magnanimity as to yield again to inclina- 
tion, and resolve to make the best of a bad 
business by acting up to his profession. In 
fact, he could do nothing less. He was cer- 
tain that not only Molly, but Miss Gliddon, 
would be expecting him at the Vicarage. 
There was nothing better to do than continue 
to make love to her ; unless he wished to 
have a hornet's nest buzzing about his ears, 
he must pacify every one. He could only 
be deeply thankful that the girl to whom he 
was called upon to devote himself for the 
edification of a watchful public was pretty 
and bewitching. He also drew great con- 
solation from the fact that Brunskill, who had 
so laudably endeavoured to punish him, was 
himself as one punished. This last was the 
subject of his most supreme satisfaction. 

He found the situation, when viewed 
through the medium of the Vicarage, unde- 



BRUNSKILVS MOVE. 81 



niably pleasant. Molly at once, in her inno- 
cence, assured him that Miss Gliddon knew — 
had, to her astonishment, known before she 
came ; there had been nothing for her to 
tell. She did not add that she had been hurt 
by receiving no congratulation. Neither did 
Miss Gliddon congratulate Ormrod, but she 
made everything very pleasant for both in an 
unobtrusive way — too pleasant and smooth, 
Molly thought, for the time flew, and she 
could not realize how it went. They had 
quiet strolls in the garden, quiet talks in the 
drawing-room. Ormrod was always good- 
humoured, always caressing. He really liked 
her ; and nothing came more naturally to him 
than to make love, especially when the girl 
was pretty. She surprised him, too, by her 
ease of manner and taking ways, that were 
never awkward or self-conscious, or out of 
harmony with Miss Gliddon's luxurious rooms 
and refinement. There was many a time 
during that brief week when she unconsciously 



VOL. I. 



82 JULIET. 

almost persuaded him to entertain the idea of 
marrying her, so lovely did she look with 
her dimpling smiles, so fond of him did she 
show herself. But she was a wild flower, and 
not meant for transplantation into ungenial 
soil. As her declared lover, however, he left 
nothing undone, and even one day brought 
her a ring. 

Thus, the last evening quickly came. 
They had their last walk, their last talk, and 
a lone-drawn-out farewell. He was starting 
early the following morning. The road 
skirted the glebe, and he promised to run 
up the field for yet another word. She 
scarcely slept at all that night, and getting 
up early, stole out to walk off her excited 
impatience. She could not help being im- 
patient to see him again, although she knew 
it would be but for one little moment, in 
which, above everything, there would be the 
consciousness of a long separation. Miss 
Gliddon presently joined her, having watched 



BRUNSKILVS MOVE. 83 



her from her window as she dressed, and 
pitying her restlessness. She always gar- 
dened for an hour or two before breakfast 
in summer, and she got Molly to hold her 
matting and knife while she went about 
tying up her phloxes and larkspurs. The 
garden was very gay and well-tended, the 
laurels pruned, the grass machine-cut, the 
borders bright with annuals that ran wild 
amidst sweet-briar bushes and an under- 
growth of musk. In one corner w r as a bank 
of yellow roses ; beneath the windows, and 
throwing its fragrance into the rooms, a 
wealth of mignonette. Everything was old- 
fashioned, making green-houses and forcing- 
beds conspicuous by their absence ; but 
everything bespoke wealth, ease, method, 
and substantial comfortable tastes ; and Miss 
Gliddon, in her spacious sun-hat and crisp 
grey gingham, was as much in harmony 
with it as Juliet Laybourne, short- frocked, 
tuckerless, her head crowned with a bat- 



84 JULIET. 

tered old Dunstable bonnet, had been years 
before. 

As Miss Gliddon worked she talked, but 
Molly answered at random. Molly's eyes 
were fixed upon the road from Moorhead, 
but for loner unavailing^. Even Miss Glid- 
don had begun to think it late, when at last 
the trap appeared, a dark speck creeping 
down the hill which was crowned by the 
church. 

" They'll only just have time to catch the 
train," said Molly ; " and if they miss it, will 
he come back, do you think, for another 
night ? " 

11 They won't miss it," said Miss Gliddon, 
looking at her flushed face and shining eyes, 
and realizing how gnawing had been her 
impatience. " He may not have time to run 
up the glebe, however. Go and meet him 
half-way. Me sees us. He is waving.*' 

It did not take Molly a minute to leap the 
sunk fence and clear half the slope towards 



BR UNSKILLS MO VE. 85 

the stile into the road. Then she heard an 
unintelligible shout from Ormrod. The trap 
was coming on rapidly — another moment, 
and she expected it to stop. But it did not. 
There was a distinct shout of " Good-bye ; 
haven't time ! ' and it flashed past. She 
caught a confused impression of an insolent 
stare of admiration from the Newbridge 
driver, a smile from Ormrod, a watch elo- 
quently held up, and a hand waved from the 
lips. There was a cloud of dust, and she 
realized that he was gone. 




CHAPTER VI. 



ON THE VERGE. 



It was not with his wife's approval that 
Mr. Quin had befriended Ormrod. Mrs. 
Quin was devoted to conventionalities, and 
condemned as Ouixotic all that diverged 
from her own code of established rule. She 
resented extremely the unconventionality of 
Providence in gifting a carpenter's son as 
though he had been a gentleman, and the 
countenance given to the irregularity by her 
husband was a still greater grievance. It 
was preposterous that she should be sonless, 
and another woman, the wife of a working- 
man in a Yorkshire village, the mother of a 
son to usurp her rights. She opposed all 



ON THE VERGE. 87 



the means at her command to more than 
distant interest, making her health — which 
was remarkably good in the private opinion 
of her doctor — the plea for avoiding Moor- 
head, and thus compelling her husband to 
forego the delights of August on the Moors 
and September in the Inlands. But when, 
in spite of everything, he announced that he 
should make an artist of the lad, she refrained 
from the undignified position of futile re- 
bellion, and gracefully conformed to the 
inevitable. 

" Your father will never rest on the side 
of sense with the Ormrods," she said, one 
day, when she and her only child, Isabel, 
were driving by the Serpentine. This was 
while Ormrod was still in Paris. 

" Won't he ? " said Isabel, naughtily. " It 
depends on which is the side of sense. I 
shouldn't have thought there was any ques- 
tion of it with papa." 

" You must know all young Ormrod' s 



88 JULIET. 

expenses are met by him, and I do not con- 
sider it fair by you." 

"It is fair by papa that he should do as 
he pleases with his own. I suppose, some 

day, Noll Ormrod will come and live with 
us. 

" Don't talk of it," said Mrs. Quin ; 4i I 

only trust, if he did, you would be married 

and gone. He might flirt with you. There 

is no saying what might happen. But I shall 

beg your father not to run the risk. I know 

sufficient of the evil of such marriages from 

your uncle Richard. I wish you would think 

seriously of your cousin, Henry Mompesson." 

" The thin^ nwht be for him to think 
seriously of me," said Isabel, lowering her 
parasol to hide an unexpected blush, of which 
she was painfully conscious. 

" Isabel, don't be so detestably coquet- 
tish. Do you want him to crawl ?' 

" No," said she ; " but he will have to 
take his fate boldly into his own hands." 



ON THE VERGE. 89 



" You know what makes him diffident." 

" Do vou mean the miserable chance of 
Uncle Richard reappearing, or being found 
to have left an heir ? I know the risk ; and, 
supposing we were married, the blow would 
fall on me equally with him." 

" But don't you see that he shrinks from 
imposing such a risk upon you ? ' 

" He does not," said Isabel, firmly. " He 
thinks very little of me. At present he 
admires Miss Laybourne more than any 
lady he has met, but he knows she would not 
have him, even if there were no risk attend- 
ing his possession of the estates. Yet all the 
while there is a matter-of-course impression 
in his mind that he will eventually propose 
to me. That is what his consideration 
amounts to." 

Mrs. Quin did not venture to ask how far 
Mompesson's matter-of-course impression 
would meet with Isabel's favour, but her own 
impression was that she would not have said 



9© JULIET, 

so much or placed it so plainly had her wishes 
been likely to go contrary to his. It was 
a tradition in the family, that there had been 
an attachment between them from the early 
days in the nursery at Coombe, when Isabel 
went to stay with her cousins, to play with 
Lily and be tyrannized over by Henry. Mrs. 
Mompesson was fond of relating an incident 
that took place, unperceived, as the chief 
actors imagined, in one of the corridors, 
during Henry's last holidays from Eton ; how. 
after a long confidential talk, he suddenly 
flung an arm round her neck and kissed her, 
but instantly recoiled as she dealt him a blow 
on the ear. Remorse seizing her the next 
moment, she flung both arms round his 
neck and kissed him with sobs. It was a 
pretty scene, and one likely to dwell in the 
minds of each and bear desirable fruit. But 
it was a disappointment to Mrs. Quin that 
this fruit had not been borne immediately 
upon Isabel's release from the schoolroom. 



ON THE VERGE. 91 



She had made up her mind that Isabel should 
possess Coombe, and set herself as a flint 
against the possibility of Henry losing the 
estates through an unexpected claim from 
any heir of her long-lost elder brother. She 
considered that decision lav in Isabel's hands. 
If she would exert the slightest pressure, or 
throw herself into an outrageous flirtation 
with another man, she was convinced that he 
would at once take the initiative, and, out of 
sheer alarm, finding that she was necessary 
to him, come to the point. But to neither 
alternative would Isabel condescend, and Mrs. 
Ouin could only watch and wait. The con- 
sideration of mutual affection, which was to 
Isabel all important, she did not allow to 
enter her mind. She could not have Coombe 
without Mompesson, so Mompesson must be 
thrown into the bargain. She feared that 
Isabel took sufficiently after her father to 
make a point of gaining more by marriage 
that was satisfying, than. a handsome estab- 



92 JULIET. 

lishment and high county position, and was so 
blind as not to perceive that more than these 
would be gained by her marriage with Mom- 
pesson. But her lack of perspicacity was 
atoned for by her husband. When she inci- 
dentally repeated to him the gist of her 
conversation with Isabel, he leapt at once 
to the right conclusion, and determined to 
further by every means in his power the 
attraction which lurked in Mompesson's 
mind towards her, since he was the man of 
her predilection. He knew that Mompes- 
son admired Juliet Laybourne, but treated it 
at its worth — as a fleeting fancy, which would 
not attain any serious proportion. To him, 
as to many others, Juliet presented the idea 
of a human icicle, tolerating admiration, but 
far from either accepting or repulsing it. A 
man could not make love to an icicle, could 
not even admire it for long. He was confi- 
dent that he would presently turn from his 
distant contemplation of Juliet to draw near 



ON THE VERGE. 93 



Isabel. Anything more monstrously ridi- 
culous than Mrs. Ouin's qualms at the fact 
of Ormrod coming into the house while 
Isabel was still unengaged, he could not con- 
ceive. 

Matters were at this point when Ormrod 
arrived. He found he was not at once to eo 
to Rome, but had before him a London 
season. On his arrival, the house was quiet, 
exceptionally so for the time of year, as 
Johns, the butler, took care to inform him. 
Mrs. and Miss Quin were gone to the wed- 
ding of a friend in the neighbourhood of 
Coombe, but were to return in a few days. 
Mrs. Mompesson and her grand-daughter 
and Miss Lay bourne were coming up to town 
with them, but would occupy a house of their 
own. 

Ormrod listened to this without in- 
terest. He was not sorry to be able to 
establish himself in these luxurious quarters 
during the absence of the ladies. For Mrs. 



94 JULIET. 

and Miss Mompesson he cared nothing, and 
was too readily enervated by ease and happi- 
ness to feel a moment's curiosity about the 
changes time nwht have wrought in his old 
acquaintance, Juliet. It did occur to him to 
wonder how she would meet him — if with the 
old antagonism, indifferently, or cordially ? 
But he was too much occupied to decide 
even in his own mind how she ought to 
meet him. 

The intervening days passed rapidly. 
While Quin was at home they went out to- 
gether, worked in the same room, and on one 
or two occasions visited in the evenings. 
Then Quin went away, and Ormrod roamed 
at will through the beautiful rooms, lost in 
admiration of their treasures of art and vertu, 
and enjoying himself in the most lordly style 
he could assume. During the last day or 
two he worked little, but lounged a ofood deal 
on the divans in the studio, reading himself 
up in the current topics of the day, and 



ON THE VERGE. 95 



endeavouring to acquire the last jargon of 
criticism and jingle of controversy. Look- 
ing back upon that period of oriental ease a 
few weeks later, he found it difficult to believe 
that he had indeed indulged in it without the 
faintest presentiment of what was impend- 
ing. It seemed impossible that an absorbing 
passion should have burst upon him unawares, 
rousing him instantly from the lotus-eating 
phase of existence to the pursual of one 
object with every faculty of which he could 
command the consciousness. 

He happened to be out when the Quins 
returned, but was in the studio a few hours 
later when Mrs. Quin came in from an At 
Home with a young lady friend, and Henry 
Mompesson and his sister. Mrs. Quin swept 
to a chair, and in passing gave Ormrod a 
frigid, scrutinizing stare through her devil- 
glasses, after which she sat down, with her 
back to him, thus giving him the benefit of 
her coil of red-gold hair, crowned with a bon- 



96 JULIET. 

net of red tulips to match her red dress. She 
was ontrd, but magnificent — an admirable foil 
to, but at the same time in harmony with, 
the mediaeval character of the room. Her 
niece wore nun-like garments of white — cling- 
ing creamy, and as soft as the delicate 
contours of her face and figure. Between 
them, MissTatton sat down, probably feeling 
herself, if she had perception of incongruities, 
a decided non-success, for her complexion was 
thick and her figure angular, and she had 
clothed herself in decaying green, with a 
short waist and Botticelli sleeves. She was 
the daughter of an archaeological baronet, 
whose place adjoined Coombe, and a month 
in town each season afforded her the one 
opportunity of her life to gloss her country 
breeding" with a veneer of fashion, or, as her 
father expressed it, to make a goose of her- 
self. She had been endeavouring to talk to 
Mompesson in character with her costume, 
but finding he scarcely answered, was becom- 



ON THE VERGE. 97 

ing noisy, which was. her idea of being 
animated. Still, however, she did not draw 
him, and he, by-and-by, lounged up to Orm- 
rod's easel. 

" And what sort of an affair was it ? ' 
asked Quin, who presently strolled in upon 
them, with his hands in his pockets, ready 
for the genial cup of tea, which he never 
refused. 

" Charming ! " said Mrs. Quin. " I never 
saw any one more decorative than the two 
Everetts, playing battledore and shuttlecock 
over a golden screen. Miss Laybourne 
explained the Gobelins, and made a sensation 
with her figure. She had a sort of Wand in 
her hand, and might have been a priestess in 
a temple with the rod of divination. Really 
I longed for you, Oliver." 

" Very Philistine of you to long for any- 
thing," said he. 

" She wore saffron," Mrs. Quin went on, 
" and the effect was indescribable against her 

VOL. I. 7 



9 8 JULIET. 

dusky skin and dark hair. And then her 
figure ! Countess Lective asked me where 
she had been brought up. Her girls row for 
the sake of their figures, but now she thinks 
seriously of sending them to the Moors to 
climb the walls and balance themselves on 
the tops." 

" What an admirable idea, especially 
if they are chicken-hearted, and a stiff 
breeze be blowing ! Did you tell her that 
was what perfected Miss Laybournes 
figure ? " 

" I did not say Miss Laybourne's figure 
w 'as perfect. She was fortunate in her occu- 
pation t6-day. Lily," turning to her niece, 
*' I trust you will follow Miss Laybourne's 
injunctions, as to deportment and develop- 
ment, in every particular." 

11 Don't you think she might do better, 
Aunt ? " said Mompesson. 

" She could not do better, Henry; Miss 
Laybourne's figure was perfection." 



ON THE VERGE. 



99 



u I agree with you," said Quin, gravely. 

" So do I," said Mompesson, but he 
laughed ; and Mrs. Quin instantly perceived 
the toils in which she had been caught, and, 
opening her fan with a rattle, prepared for 
war. But before she had time to speak, the 
door again opened, and two ladies entered 
the room. 





CHAPTER VII. 



OVER THE VERGE. 



One of these ladies was fair, pretty, and 
exquisitely dressed in the height of unaesthe- 
tic fashion. She glanced quickly round the 
room, and smiled when she saw Ormrod, 
making her way to him and shaking hands. 
This was Isabel Quin, who had a habit of 
being agreeable with every one, and pointedly 
so to any one who might be slighted by 
others. He went to get her a cup of tea, 
but when he returned, Mompesson had taken 
a chair near her, and she was talking in tones 
of soft sparkling inflexion, peculiar to herself 
and charming to her hearers. Ormrod with- 



OVER THE VERGE. 101 

drew from their proximity, and finding him- 
self near his easel, began industriously 
buttering the edges of his palette with his 
knife. He had a strange feeling that he was 
only looking at his palette to avoid staring 
at Juliet Laybourne. The subterfuge did 
not serve him for more than a moment. He 
was compelled to look at her by some 
mastering force apart from his will. Their 
eyes met as he raised his, but hers instantly 
dropped. She remained motionless. There 
was no movement of recognition on the part 
of either, but each was conscious of the 
minute observation and interest of the other. 

Ormrod, however, continued to look at 
her. 

She was standing on a comparatively 
open space of Persian carpet, apart from 
every one, and apparently equally unheeded 
and unheeding. Her saffron-coloured dress 
fell in straight, yet graceful folds, unrelieved, 
except by thick gold bands round throat and 



102 JULIET, 

wrists. The effect of these tints against her 
dusky skin was, indeed, indescribably fine. 
She had taken off her hat and her face was 
turned towards Ormrod, free from more 
shadow than the stained windows — which 
were uncovered when the skylight was shaded 
— threw. But the rich dimness of the light 
enhanced the beauty of her colouring. Her 
features were disposed to the Greek type, 
but, happily, were far from perfect, afford- 
ing abundant scope for the play of expres- 
sion. Her eyes were at once dreamy and 
brilliantly keen. She wore her dark hair 
turned back from her brow, and coiled close 
to her head. As she stood, absolutely still 
and silent, yet with infinite possibilities of 
eloquent action in every curve of feature and 
form — a Galatea waiting Heaven's fire — it 
seemed to Ormrod that he had not seen a 
more beautiful woman. He was by no means 
certain how she would receive him, but made 
his way to her without hesitation. 



OVER THE VERGE. 103 

" I should not have known you," he said, 
when he stood before her, so near, he felt, as 
almost to touch her dress. 

" You are not changed," she said. 

She spoke slowly, and moved as though to 
pass him ; then paused, and glancing half 
over her shoulder, extended her hand. He 
took it. The next moment she was talking 
to Mr. Quin, and Ormrod threw himself into 
a chair and took up an illustrated Academy 
catalogue. But he saw neither word nor 
wood-cut. His senses were absorbed in 
watching and listening to Juliet. 

Nor did this first impression fade. It 
occupied him unceasingly to compare what 
she was with what she had been. It was 
scarcely possible to identify this tall and 
graceful woman, with her handsome face, air 
of keen intelligence, and swimming gait, calm, 
composed, almost statuesque, with the old 
Juliet of Moorhead Vicarage, who had romped 
about, gawky and overgrown, in short dresses 



104 JULIET. 

and a battered old Dunstable bonnet, and 
been towards himself hostile almost to 
absurdity. Nor was it simply that he 
admired her. There was more about her 
than was to be satisfied by admiration. The 
more he thought of her, the more she puzzled 
him. She had gained much, but also she 
had lost much. Her calmness was not 
natural, her eyes failed to show the intensity 
of feeling with which at one time they had 
every moment gleamed and shadowed. He 
felt that whereas once her life had lived, now 
it smouldered. In this, he was only like 
others. No one of perception approached 
Juliet Laybourne without a sensation of 
speculation, whose excuse for watchful- 
ness made its object involuntarily fasci- 
nating. 

He had expected to see her constantly, 
but in this he was disappointed. Chance 
ruted their meeting, and it seemed that chance 
was not propitious at this time to their ac- 



OVER THE VERGE. 105 

quaintance. For several consecutive days he 
often did not see her at all, much less talk to 
her. She came to the house ; once he picked 
up from the studio-floor a glove which Isabel 
said was hers ; again a flower ; but it happened 
that he was generally out when she came. 
Occasionally, in desperation, he went to the 
Park at the driving hour in hopes of seeing 
her with Mrs. Mompesson, but he only saw 
Mrs. Mompesson and Mrs. Quin. At last, he 
remained indoors, under the pretext of com- 
pleting some work, and was once rewarded 
by hearing her voice in the vestibule. She 
even approached the studio-door, and he 
awaited its opening with an eagerness 
little short of anxiety, but was again dis- 
appointed. Isabel ran downstairs laugh- 
ing, and voices and steps retreated. In a 
paroxysm of vexation he rushed to see, if it 
were but the skirts of her garment, and was 
confronted by the footman, returning from 
closing the front-door after them. He could 



106 JULIET. 

not have believed in such signal ill-luck, had 
it not thus met him in spite of every effort. 
But ill-luck was precisely what increased his 
determination. He delighted in opposing 
himself to opposition, whether tangible or 
imaginary. An object easily gained pos- 
sessed no value in his eyes from the moment 
it was mastered. 

But at last there came an hour when 
everything favoured the opportunity pre- 
sented to him. The Quins went out one 
evenine to witness a Greek drama at a 
private house, for which it had been impos- 
sible to procure an extra invitation, and 
Ormrod was left alone. But not five minutes 
afterwards, Juliet came, commissioned by 
Mrs. Mompesson to take back the last 
number of Fors Clavigcra. She walked into 
the studio unannounced, and in the expecta- 
tion of finding it deserted. For one moment 
of intense surprise and delight, Ormrod did 
not move. The next, he jumped up and 



OVER THE VERGE. 107 

advanced to her. She was taken unawares, 
stopped, faltered, half turned back ; her eyes 
fixed themselves upon him, dilated into a 
momentary flash of joy, a blush surged into 
her face, and ebbing, left her pale. She 
stretched out her hands, but the next instant 
dropped them ; then again raised one, as 
though to forbid him to come near. This 
little scene passed in a minute, but Ormrod 
felt that in it he had read, as it were, a 
volume. And he was bewildered. 

He turned abruptly, and walked to the 
end of the room. When he came back, Juliet 
had moved, and was bending over a table, in 
apparent examination of an etching. He 
watched her, fascinated by the sweep of her 
dress and the droop of her figure. But it 
seemed that she could not endure to be 
watched. He saw the colour again suffuse 
her face, and she bent lower as though 
shrinking from him. He pushed a chair 
towards her. 



108 JULIET. 

" Sit down," he said, gently. 

Without hesitation she obeyed him. He 
was certain that her hands had trembled as 
she put down the etching. He was ready to 
be magnanimous ; and to give her time in 
which to recover herself, he brought a 
fan of peacocks' feathers from the mantel- 
piece. 

" Now, we will talk," he said, throwing 
himself into a chair opposite to her. 

" Of what?" said Juliet, slowly waving 
the fan to and fro. In contrast with her 
dress of pale gold, it seemed to be made 
of jewels. 

" Of Agnosticism." 

— * 

" Or political economy." 

" Madame Bernhardt-Damala." 

V Oscar Wilde." 

Then Ormrod laughed, and Juliet smiled 
slowly. 

" Of ourselves," said Ormrod. u Of you. 
You have never been to Moorhead since the 



OVER THE VERGE. 109 

day, years ago, when you all went away 
together. Why did you never come ? ' 

" This is evidently the first time it has 
occurred to you to wonder why I never 
came. Only new ideas strike one so 
very forcibly," she said, with a tinge of 
sarcasm. 

" I fear I thought more of the past than 
the future." 

" Then I am sure you would not wish to 
see me again." 

" But why not ? " 

" I was so detestable in those days." 

" Are you certain you could not be yet ? ' 

" I could." 

" Well, be detestable. It would still add 
flavour to your fascination. Be anything you 
like." 

" I shall not give you equal licence." 

-No? Why not?" 

She did not answer, but looked gravely at 
him for a moment, and then, to his dismay, 



no JULIET. 

suddenly rose and swept her dress round on 
to one arm. 

" Good-bye," she said, in soft, emotionless 
tones. 

" You are not going?" he exclaimed, 
springing to his feet. " We have had no time 
yet, no talk. You have told me nothing of 
any one. I want to know what they are all 
doing, how they are. I know, of course, of 
your loss — your great — " 

He stopped, paralyzed by her look. She 
was staring at him helplessly; her eyes dilated 
in the effort at self-control, until they suddenly 
filled with tears that dropped in tortured slow- 
ness on to her cheeks before she seemed to 
notice them. 

" I'm awfully sorry," faltered Ormrod, 
appalled by those tears. " Sit down and rest. 
I will not speak ; I — must I leave you ? " 

But again she took him by surprise, for 
instead of burying her face in her hands with 
unrestrained, relieving sobs, she strangled 



OVER THE VERGE. in 

emotion in a smile that was piteous in its 
mingling of agony and gaiety. 

" Do you understand now ? " she asked. 
" I never came, because I could not — bear — 
to come." 

He did not speak, only pushed a chair 
towards her, for she was trembling, and she 
dropped into it with a strange sound, half 
sob, half laugh. 

11 I have never told any one. Why do I 
tell you ? " she said. 

He looked at her as though he saw her 
through a mist. It was like a dream, and yet 
he felt in every pulse that he had only to put 
out his hand and her arm would be there. 
This was Juliet Laybourne ; but Juliet living, 
moving, speaking, thinking, in an unfathom- 
able, half-resentful way of himself. Presently 
she began to speak of Ted, his gentle life, his 
quiet death. The news of Ted's death had 
reached him years ago, in the midst of his 
work and light-hearted attainments of success. 



ii2 JULIET. 

•" Poor fellow ! ' he had said, in hackneyed 
phrase, not giving a thought to the manner of 
his death, or to those whose hearth would 
now have the sad distinction of a vacant chair. 
But indifference vanished during Juliet's 
recital. Long before she finished, he was 
touched to actual sympathy, and when at last 
her voice ceased, he ventured to express this 
sympathy in his look. She caught that look, 
faced it, and her fictitious calm gave way 
before she had time to think of what it ex- 
pressed. She thought only that the sense of 
her grief and desolation was now no longer 
only her own, that she had shared them with 
another human being. Full consciousness of 
what Ormrod had been to her thoughts during 
years of separation, and of what he might in 
the future be, burst upon her. She turned in 
her chair, flung out her arms, and, laying her 
head upon them, gave way to a passion of tears. 
Ormrod sprang up. He went near and 
touched her. But she took no notice. He 



OVER THE VERGE. 113 

spoke in a low, eager murmur, scarcely know- 
ing what he said, but she did not answer. 
Her frame shuddered with sobs. He realized 
that for the moment he was powerless to help 
her, and left the room. 

These were the first tears Juliet had shed 
for Ted. In the early days of her sorrow no 
one had been able to influence her. Her 
mother might implore her to talk to her, 
might talk to her herself, laying bare the 
sacred sorrow that clutches at a mother's 
heart-strings on the first loss of a child — a 
sorrow of which, if women talk at all, it is to 
their husbands, for very love and full compre- 
hension between wedded soul and soul. Lav- 
bourne might take her to the grave, bring her 
face to face with the griefs and sufferings of 
others, speak of the cross which each must 
take up in one form or another, and of the 
nobility with which the life of Christ has sur- 
rounded human pain ; her sisters and brothers 

might seek and find comfort in reminiscences 
vol. 1. 8 



ii 4 JULIET. 

and tears ; but all was without effect on Juliet. 

Her mother used to think anything would be 

less terrible than her stony pursual of her 

duties, the parched stare of her eyes while she 

worked and laughed and talked as usual, her 

steady avoidance of the one dear name, and 

indifference to the prayers with which she 

and her husband assuaged their grief in the 

realization that 

" Death is Life's best, 
And he wins most who earliest goes to rest." 

In the end this sorrow bade fair to para- 
lyze her, soul and body. Doctors warned 
them that nature could not long withstand its 
ravages. Juliet herself was fain to break it, 
but could not, and began to consider her own 
days numbered. 

At this crisis, Laybourne wrote to Doctor 
Thorns, the rector of Coombe. Coombe was 
only a few miles distant from Marshlands, and 
there was warm friendship between the two 
clergymen, as there had previously been be- 



OVER THE VERGE. 115 

tween the Doctor and Mr. Gliddon. Indeed, 
their acquaintance dated from Laybourne's 
pastorate at Moorhead, when the Doctor had 
occasionally gone over with Mr. Gliddon to 
see him. Between Juliet and him there had 
always existed a whimsical sort of mutual 
admiration. He was many years older than 
herself, and the fact of his being unmarried 
gave the young Laybournes much romantic 
speculation. They were convinced that he 
had had a disappointment, and must be a. 
misanthrope and misogynist. He was, how- 
ever, neither, but a man with wide and cheer- 
ful interest in others, whom a solitary life had 
somewhat hipped, and who delighted in 
giving way to various odd twists of thought for 
the sake of the licence granted to eccentricity. 
He was generally taken to be older than he 
was, since chronic rheumatism gave him a 
slight limp, and often necessitated the use of 
a stick. For the last few years his home had 
been presided over by a widow, a distant con- 



n6 JULIET. 

nection of his own, whose life had been full 
of vicissitudes, and who was thankful for a 
quiet home in her old age. He had found 
this arrangement very advantageous, since it 
admitted of his asking lady-friends to visit 
the rectory, and among these Mrs. Lay- 
bourne and her girls had come most fre- 
quently. 

When he received Laybourne's letter he 
took a turn or two in his garden, then ordered 
the chintz room to be prepared for a visitor, 
and started on his mule for Marshlands. 
Arrived there, he took matters into his own 
hands, and after a long talk with Mrs. Lay- 
bourne, bade Juliet pack a trunk to be sent 
by the Grantham carrier, and took her home 
with him. They did it ridc-and-tic ; first 
the doctor, and then Juliet, on the mule ; and 
they were four hours doing it, along country 
lanes, with woodbine on the hedges and 
bryony skeins among the ripening hips and 
haws and brambles ; across a bit of shim- 



OVER THE VERGE. 117 

mering marsh, with dark alders and pale 
willows silhouetted against the low sky-line, 
and through villages where he was known 
and greeted on every hand ; and they talked 
the whole way, and now and then he won a 
laugh from her. 

Then they reached the Rectory. His 
hobby was rose cultivation, and all his rose- 
banks were laden with their second bloom of 
the year. He took her among them, and 
waved his hand in the pride of possession. 

" Here you are," said he, " a thorn among^ 
them all ! Shame on you ! you a woman, 
with a woman's noble heart. You won't 
leave us until that heart is 'asa tree of the 
Lord, full of sap,' that shall flow freely to 
good or be tiss-tossed into hell-fire, proved 
lifeless. Now, my thorn, you are my prisoner, 
and I am Hope." 

" Delicious ! ' cried Juliet, throwing back 
her head, with somewhat of the old verve 
kindling over her face. " I am a thorn, and 



n8 JULIET. 

I love to be told it. But you, Hope ! No ; 
don't insult Pandora's taste so far." 

They already thoroughly understood each 
other, and he gave her the fillip she needed. 
In a month she was forgetting physical 
weakness and thorny attributes. In three 
months she was strong. It was Christmas 
then, but she did not go home ; and when 
the doctor pledged her in the loving-cup of 
Twelfth Night, it was as his Christmas-rose. 
This made her thoughtful in a totally new 
groove of thought. 

"It is a pity you are not twenty years 
younger," she said. 

"Why?" he asked, carefully searching 
for a soppet in the great silver tankard. 

u You know why," she said, suddenly 
abashed, and shrugging her shoulders at the 
irksomeness of the feeling. 

11 You think I should have married you ? ' 

" Yes." 

" That is true. I would, since you would." 



OVER THE VERGE. 119 



" Thank you," she said, earnestly. 

There was a pause, broken by his holding 
up before her the stick to which rheumatism 
often caused him to resort in winter, and 
shaking it while his keen eyes peered past it. 

11 See," said he, " this is my insignia of 
fool-hood. " Don't you know we are two 
very naughty people to breathe such a word 
as marriage ? You Siren ! are you going to 
make this a Calypso isle ? Are you dead to 
the all-potent social convenances?' Don't 
you know that it. is only proper for you to 
be here as my friend, adopted child, grand- 
child — what you will ; but the moment 
aught nearer and dearer sprang to the fore, 
it would be highly improper, until we'd stood 
at the altar as acknowledged spectacles for 
the common herd ? Don't make-believe you 
are in love with me. Some day you'll hit a 
young fellow, the right man, driving straight 
as an arrow." 

" It may be pleasant to have a lover," 



120 JULIET. 

said she, reflectively. " I've never thought 
of such a thing before." 

"Never! Not Brunskill, over yonder, 
due north ? " 

" Brunskill ? No," she cried, with won- 
dering eyes. 

" Nor that complacent sapling of a 
genius ? " 

" Not unless Love can reach the pitch of 
Hate." 

* It can, sometimes," said he, wagging 
his head. " Nor any of the curates ? ' 

" They are Sophy's and Carrie's prey." 

" I see — small meat altogether." 

" If you like." 

" Then the madness has still to come, 
poor wight ! " 

" I choose to think it has come, in spite 
of the convenances" said she, with fascinating 
arch perversity. 

" And I choose, perforce, to rule that it 
hasn't." 



OVER THE VERGE. 121 

She laughed. " Am I very improper ? ' 
" I know not what you are, but I like to 
think a wholesome old thing — ' To the pure 
all things are pure. However, not another 
word of all this, or home you go to-morrow. 
Now for that Andante in F y and then your 
beauty-sleep, Calypso." 

It is certain the subject was never re- 
curred to, for she remained yet two years 
under his care, which would not have been 
had he seen danger to her in it. They were 
two years of healthy study and relaxation, 
and ripening of that captivating anomaly — 
Platonic friendship. She was to the world 
as his daughter, but congenial tastes and 
sympathies made her more than that. At the 
two years' end he sent her into Germany 
for a course of music ; then on into Italy, to 
study the Venetian and Florentine schools 
of painting ; and finally joined her for a 
mutual ecstasy in Rome. But do or leave 
undone what he would, a yearning melan- 



122 JULIET. 

choly of retrospection and anticipation grew 
on her, becoming her normal condition, 
smouldering under her most careful gaiety, 
and making her that attractive Sphinx — a 
beautiful, sad woman, with eyes 

" The homes of silent prayer," 

and questionings of Fate. 

Afterwards she returned to Marshlands, 
but succeeded only in perplexing the com- 
monplace home hearts, and being unable to 
settle down, satisfied her uneasy hankering 
after work and Coombe by accepting the 
post of governess to Mrs. Mompesson's 
erand-dauofhter at the Hall. 



CHAPTER VIII. 



WITH ISABEL. 



When Ormrod's immediate feeling of sym- 
pathy in Juliet's abandonment of grief wore 
off, which it did almost as soon as he left her, 
it was succeeded by one of triumph, that 
quickly gave place to pique. He had recog- 
nized the value of her confidence, and counted 
upon it as ensuring him the advantage of 
familiar friendship, an advantage in every 
way gratifying to his conceit, for she was 
handsome, clever, noticeable and noticed, and 
for a man to be seen at her side would natur- 
ally lead to the inquiry, " Who is he ?' He 



i2 4 JULIET. 

felt that she would give him prestige. But 
it seemed that he had counted without his 
host. She gave no sign of any intention to 
be seen with him, or indeed of remembering 
his existence. He was left to brood over 
what had happened, and to lash himself into 
impatience for what might happen. Mean- 
while, the round of engagements which, a few 
weeks before, possessed the proportions of 
events, dwindled into the mechanism of mere 
duties, and life became barren of events 
because Juliet was invisible. 

" Is Miss Laybourne ill?' he at last 
asked Isabel. 

" Grandmamma is. She's got one of her 
nervous attacks. They arise from mental 
anxiety — suspense, in fact, over Uncle 
Richard. I don't suppose he'll ever turn 
up, but she has periodical fits of remorse 
and anxiety, and the affair has always had a 
fascination for Miss Laybourne. She can 
control Gran better either than Sibbert or 



WITH ISABEL. 125 

mamma. Then you see she's not a very happy 
girl — that is to say, she's had a great grief, 
and she thinks it's meant to educate her. 
Very morbid, is it not ? I often say the 
best thing that could happen to her 
would be to fall desperately in love. But 
she says love's a misnomer for pain. I 
saw her to-day. She looks a little worn, 
but happier than usual. I told her so 
and she thawed a little ; generally she is as 
cool as an icicle. She cried, just a tear or 
two." 

" And she rarely cries ? " 

" Oh, never. She did not cry when her 
brother died. She is neither cold-hearted 
nor proud, though." 

" I should think she is nothing that is not 
good. I never saw any one like her," said 
Ormrod, in a more fervid tone than he was 
aware. 

Isabel turned suddenly and looked at him 
with interest. 



126 JULIET. 

" Do you mean to fall in love with her ? ' 
she asked. 

Ormrod blushed violently, and his brush 
trembled in his hand — two evidences of feel- 
ing which were to Isabel convincing, apart 
from his constrained laugh. 

" Do you consider falling in love is always 
active, Miss Quin ?" 

" I fancy she would snub you," said Isabel, 
with her usual frankness. 

" Snub me ! ' he exclaimed, in disgust. 

" Though I never knew her snub any one." 

11 Then, why me ? " he demanded. 

" I don't know. I am only a woman and 
of unreasonable opinions." 

As she spoke she looked at him scru- 
tinizingly, half in perplexity, half in disdain. 
There are some people who, while fully con- 
scious of being looked at, can appear uncon- 
scious and undergo the most penetrating 
observation with a preoccupied air. Orm- 
rod was one such. He was usine his scumb- 



WITH ISABEL. 127 



ling-brush, with his head slightly on one 
side, and continued to use it while Isabel 
noted every detail of his physique. She 
could not but acknowledge that he and 
Juliet would each be an admirable foil for the 
other, for he was a handsome, well-made man, 
of fair complexion, chestnut hair, and bold 
blue eyes. He was wearing a brown velvet 
painting jacket, to which a loose arrangement 
of collar and tie added picturesqueness. 
But though he might readily have been 
termed a fine-looking fellow, he did not assi- 
milate with the position which he was pro- 
posing for himself. Isabel could not resist 
advising him. 

" Mr. Ormrod," she said, earnestly, " she 
has fascinated you as she fascinates every one. 
Don't give way to it ; you'll cripple yourself 
for work. She never sees admiration, she 
passes it by, it does not touch her. They 
are returning to Coombe very shortly. Don't 
allow your thoughts to go .with her."' 



128 JULIET. 

" Then you think I may not see her again 
before they go." 

" I don't know. It depends upon herself." 

" On Thursday you are all going to the 
rose show at the Palace. Will she go ? ' 

" I don't think so. She told me the other 
day she simply wanted to be back at Coombe. 
There's Doctor Thorns, you know." 

" Doctor Thorns ? ' he repeated. 

" Oh ! they're only friends, Platonic 
friends. That's as much as she allows her- 
self." 

" I should like to see her before she goes," 
he said, naively. 

11 I am sure you would." 

" I wish you would tell her so, Miss 
Ouin." He had ceased to paint, and was 
regarding her anxiously. 

" I will tell her nothing," said Isabel, 
emphatically. 

11 Oh, very well," said Ormrod, in perfect 
good temper. But she felt that this appa- 



WITH ISABEL. 129 



rent indifference meant anything- but acquies- 
cence — that, in fact, he was obstinate as well 
as self-confident, and would evolve some way 
by which to carry his point. She thought 
a great deal about this conversation, and 
endeavoured, on the first opportunity, to lead 
up to it with Juliet. But she found Juliet 
perfectly unassailable on the subject of Orm- 
rod. She was busy at the time painting 
foxgloves on a brown satin panel ; the flowers 
had just arrived fresh from the Coombe spin- 
neys, and she was bent on taking full advan- 
tage of their freshness, and much the more 
bent when she found who was in Isabel's 
mind and on her lips. Isabel could make 
nothing of her, and was, on the whole, more 
surprised by her reticence than by Ormrod's 
confidence. It would have been so natural 
to discuss him ; apart from interest in his 
future, there were so many associations con- 
nected with him at Moorhead, not only on 
the part of Juliet at the Vicarage, but of her- 

VOL. 1. 9 



13° JULIET. 

self at Church House, when in past years 
her father had made full use of it as a shoot- 
ing-box. But Juliet waived all these con- 
siderations, was devoid of her usual trenchant 
opinions, and would not even look up from her 
occupation. Isabel began to think the affairs 
of others mystifying, a climax in her expe- 
rience which was simplified by the sudden 
elucidation of her own affairs just at this 
time. 

In recrossing Kensington Gardens that 
day she met Mompesson, who turned with 
her. She did not know that he had been 
seated on one of the shadiest seats, and had 
seen her coming from afar, watching her 
indeed from the moment of recognition with 
a sudden rush of decided admiration which 
flooded his heart with a feeling to which, as 
he rose, he swore to give vent then and 
there. It was hot, tropically hot, and he 
commended her prudence for not being in 
the Park, where the gentlemen were wearing 



WITH ISABEL. 131 

white trousers and puggarees, and the ladies 
were invisible beneath their parasols. She 
was looking as cool and fresh as though 
it were a dewy morning at Coombe. Her 
pale blue gingham with its dainty lace set off 
her complexion and golden cloud of hair to 
perfection. And where had she got these 
fresh sweet peas that looked as though they 
had just been gathered from the borders in 
the Coombe kitchen gardens ? Their frag- 
rance and many-tinted pink were delicious 
to him, recalling those great walled gardens, 
whose sunny corners sheltered beds of lilies- 
of-the-valley and close plantings of rare 
polyanths ; where a pheasant had once 
nested, and Bel and Lily and he went every 
day to peep at her ; and there were flaunting 
borders of larkspur and columbine, and iris 
and pinks. Had not the happy trio run 
riot among them many a time, breaking the 
tallest spikes, tearing their clothes in the pea- 
rods, eluding gardeners, nurses and gover- 



t 3 2 JULIET. 

ness, until at last they could run no more ? 
Those happy hours ! Coombe, with its 
stately house and park and woods, were all 
inseparably associated with this bright and 
dainty Isabel. The hour was come when 
she must be ensured, not only for the past 
but for the future. He told her so, suddenly 
and without finesse. The shock of unmiti- 
gated happiness was almost more than she 
could calmly bear, and he saw this and took 
her to a seat where she could rest and recover 
herself. In the end, this most natural of 
conclusions had come suddenly upon both. 
When she saw him coming towards her 
across the turf, she had no anticipation of the 
event lying in the nutshell of the next few- 
moments, and he would have been astounded 
an hour before had he been told that she 
would, at the end of that time, be his pre- 
mised wife. She was realizing now, when 
all possibility of suspense was removed, how 
great that suspense would have been ; and he 



WITH ISABEL. 133 

was thinking that only one other event than 
this could have proved to him how dear she 
was, how very dear — her preference for some 
one else. 

" Thank God ! ' he exclaimed, fervently, 
"it's settled. What a fool I've been to hesi- 
tate. I might have known you would have 
me. 

" You know now," she said, happily. 

" And you don't dread the risk, Bel ? I 
have Coombe now, and may have ; but sup- 
posing Uncle Richard, or — supposing " 

" I dread no risk," she said ; u you and I 
shall always have each other." 

"In any case I shall not be penniless — " 

''And we could go abroad to retrench." 

"Certainly. But I hope we shall live 
and die at Coombe. You suit Coombe ; your 
style suits it. You forgive my aberration 
over Miss Laybourne ? " he added, with a 

laugh. 

11 It was not aberration. You may 



'34 



JULIET. 



admire her yet," said Isabel. How far, how 
very far away, and how absurdly impossible, 
did the old qualms over Mompesson's love 
now seem ! 








CHAPTER IX. 

SELF-CONFEST. 

The day of the Palace Rose Show ap- 
proached, and Ormrod had not seen Juliet, 
although he had missed no opportunity for 
endeavouring to do so. It had occurred to 
him that she was purposely avoiding him. 
His mood was precisely what Isabel 
had foreseen. He waived her advice and 
undauntedly pursued his own course, writing 
to Juliet when he became convinced that he 
would not meet her. In his letter he begged 
her to go the Palace, urging his comparative 
loneliness and his desire to see again one 
whom he could not but regard as an old 



136 JULIET. 

friend, whose continued friendship he would 
value more than he could express. It was a 
short letter but a clever one, inasmuch as 
each word had been chosen for more than its 
own value, and was pregnant with meaning 
deeper than appeared on the surface. 

He posted it himself, but received no 
answer. On the day of the show they drove 
out to the Palace, having arranged to meet 
the Mompessons at the fountain in the nave. 
Mompesson, however, met them as the car- 
riage stopped. He was alone, and evidently 
had not a thought in his mind but of Isabel. 
Ormrod felt himself in the position of an 
outsider ; she had always been kind and 
thoughtful to him, relieving him of all feel- 
ing of isolation without appearing to consider 
him isolated, and now Mompesson was walk- 
ing her off with a grand air of possession. 
Ormrod looked after them discontentedly. He 
had heard that Lily was not there, but no 
one had asked about Juliet ; and since it was 



SELF-CONFEST. 137 

certain that she would not have come alone 
with Mompesson, nothing was left to him 
but the aoro-ravation of baulked desire. He 
was turning to saunter off alone and nurse 
his disappointment, when Isabel looked back 
and beckoned of him, even coming to meet 
him. 
1 " She is here," she said. 

-Alone?" 

" With Doctor Thorns. But his rheu- 
matism is bad just now, and he can't walk 
far. You have only to find her." 

" Only to find her ! ' Hopeful words, with 
asp-like meaning ! He went into the Palace, 
eagerly scanning the crowd. It was like a 
scene in fairy-land, this great crystal dome, 
with the forest trees beneath it, whose green 
was fresh and unsmirched by dust, the masses 
of tropical plants, the big, cool circle of the 
fountain, with the dripping of its water 
mingling - with the music of the band outside, 
the babble of voices, and chatter of parrots 



138 JULIET. 

swinging from bough to bough. The vast aisles 
were filled with a shifting, surging crowd, 
vying in colour with the dazzling hues of 
roses, over which seemed to be rlung a veil 
of transparent foliage ; and he looked at it 
with a sinking heart. To search for any one 
was as likely to be successful as an expedi- 
tion into the jungle for a mouse. He had 
no idea what she was wearing, and there 
seemed an unusual proportion of tall figures. 
He squeezed his way down the rows of roses, 
but found their fragrance overpowering and 
their luxuriance vulgar. Then he went up 
into the galleries, which were apparently 
deserted. Some one was playing upon the 
great organ, and the harmony rolled from 
end to end of the vast building above the 
kaleidoscopic scene below. He sauntered 
along, looking down upon it all in philosophic 
contemplation of its bizarre vanity. The 
fragrant, sultry air was full of sound, but 
nothing was distinguishable. It was oddly 



SEL F CONFEST. 1 3 9 



chaotic, a Rimmel-scented, violet-powdered, 
Rachel-cosmeticked pandemonium of extra- 
vagantly-dressed men and women, bent upon 
deluding themselves and others into the im- 
pression that they were happy, and succeed- 
ing only in 

"Yes, Mr. Ormrod is with the Ouins at 
last." 

That was Juliet's voice. He stopped 
instantly. He had come to a corner beyond 
which the gallery opened into a spacious 
square ; she must be sitting just round the 
corner. He stood glued to the spot, 
without a thought either of advancing or 
retreating. 

" He is very handsome," Juliet went on, 
in the low clear voice he had longed to hear 
again. " I am surprised with him. He does 
his education credit. I should like you to 
see him." 

" Don't they march him out, then ? Bad 
speculation for him — simply to inhabit the 



140 JULIET. 

studio,'' said Doctor Thorns, with jerky in- 
cisiveness. 

" He does come out ; he is here to-day, 
but I have not seen him, and do not wish 
to." 

" Why not, in the name of all that's holy ? ' 

" I used to hate him very much, you 
know." 

" But you've outgrown such vulgarities. 
Is he fascinating ?' 

"He has tact," and she seemed to speak 
reluctantly. 

" The young dog ! I feel more- jealous of 
his tact than his good looks. Handsome, 
clever, and tactful — not bad, eh, Calypso ? 
One of those cases in which Nature is kind, 
and one doubts the blindness of Dame For- 
tune. He has a career before him." 

"A fine career!" Juliet exclaimed, with 
enthusiasm ; and Ormrod would have given 
much to see her at that moment. "It is a 
finer career than Mr. Quin's/' she went on ; 



SELF- CONFEST. 1 4 1 



" he has all to win, all to make, and it is in 
him to succeed. Genius commands success 
now-a-days. Mr. Quin means to take him to 
Italy; but he must be original in his subjects." 

" Give him some of your verses to work 
from — Cyoeraeth, By the Sea-ho, Ballad of 
the Yore ; all good for personification." 

" And there is another thing," she said, 
slowly ; " he must marry well." 

'* Cela va sans dire. But compare well. 
Is its superlative a fortune or intellect ? ' 

There was a pause. Evidently she was 
deeply thinking. Then came a short sardonic 
laugh, a Mephistophelian chuckle, from the 
doctor, and she seemed to start, speaking 
hastily — 

" I hav'n't quite decided ; I " 

"Ha, ha!" he interposed; "-I've a mind 
to keep in your good graces, so I vote for 
intellect and good looks. So do you in your 
heart. Out with it ! Pish posh ! no red 
hair and money bags, stumpy figure and 



M2 JULIET. 

grimacing mouth, if a man wants to trade on 
his wife. What's such a woman in Society ? 
A cypher. But imagine genius and intellect 
wedded. Come, Calypso, be honest ; acknow- 
ledge that you award the palm to intellect." 

" I always do," she said ; and Ormrod 
could fancy how his keen, shrewd eyes were 
gleaming upon and baiting her. 

" ' Will you walk into my parlour ? ' said 
the spider to " 

" Doctor ! " said Juliet, sharply, with a half 
laugh, and then there was a movement, a 
sweep of soft skirts, a loud and sarcastic 
" Ahem ! " and the tap of a stick. Ormrod 
knew they were getting up, but he stood as 
if paralyzed. It was impossible to assume 
an air of unself-consciousness, and saunter 
up to them naturally in the ordinary course 
of things; and neither did it seem at the 
moment that he could get away before they 
should see him. But he must get away if he 
meant her to be unsuspicious, and to speak 



SELF-CONFEST. 143 



to him again as a friend. With a superhuman 
effort he broke the spell that seemed to bind 
him, and ran softly along the gallery, until he 
reached a recess, into which he plunged. 
There he had time for thought, and deter- 
mined, at all risks, not to lose sight of them 
again ; so he returned to the stairs near which 
he had stood, and peering down perceived 
that they were just reaching the bottom. It 
was easy to follow them into and through the 
crowd, and so out on to the terrace. 

They did not walk far, and as soon as 
they sat down he went up to them. 

Juliet was leaning back fanning herself, 
and looking dreamily across to the fountains 
flashing in the sun ; Doctor Thorns sat with 
his hands crossed upon his stick, his eyes 
travelling unblinkingly over earth and heaven, 
except when from time to time he turned and 
fixed them upon her as though, for once, she 
puzzled him, and he were trying to solve the 
conundrum. Just as Ormrod came up, she 



144 JULIET. 

had met this penetrating look with a provok- 
ing arch laugh. It seemed that she laughed 
readily with him, and the contrast was ex- 
asperating when, on hearing Ormrod's voice, 
she turned quickly with a glance of cold 
surprise. 

But it did not abash him. He was per- 
fectly cool and collected. 

" I am so very glad to see you," he said. 

" I am here because Doctor Thorns came 
over from Coombe on purpose to see the 
roses," she replied, with a touch of defiance. 

" Roses are a hobby of mine," said the 
doctor. 

" Then you will have viewed these with 
the understanding of the wise," rejoined 
Ormrod. " I prefer this view — the hazy dis- 
tance against this flashing water and ^av 
crowd. The gardens are pretty. There are 
some monsters somewhere, are there not ? ' 

" Down by the tanks. I have never seen 
them," said Juliet. 



SELF-CONFEST. 145 

" Perhaps we can go down presently," he 
observed. 

He had taken a chair on the far side of 
Doctor Thorns, and was looking across him 
at her ; but she avoided his eyes. He was, 
however, a quick observer on occasions of 
this kind, and felt rather than saw that she 
was nervous, a condition for which there was 
every excuse, with the doctor listening to and 
observing all. Ormrod was not nervous. On 
the contrary, he was beginning to feel himself 
master of the situation, and confident of 
managing her. 

" Yes, go and see them, by all means," 
said the doctor. " They are not fascinating 
creatures ; but then nothing was fascinating 
in their day, probably not even the serpent. 
Don't neglect your education, Calypso ; it 
runs into unexpected grooves sometimes — 
narrow ones, too." 

Ormrod knew that this was a hit at him ; 
but he did not care, for Juliet had risen with- 

VOL. I. IO 



146 JULIET. 

out the slightest perceptible hesitation, and 
stood ready to walk with him. For once he 
was incredulous of his luck. Were thev 
really going alone? It seemed that they 
were, for the doctor sat still, and Juliet was 
opening her parasol. Ormrod felt as though 
he trod on air as they slowly passed along the 
terrace and down the broad steps to the 
grass. 

" It is my innings now," he said. "It was 
awfully trying to my temper when Mompes- 
•son walked off ' instanter with Miss Ouin. Of 
course, I knew he had a perfect right to her, 
but there was not a soul about whom I knew, 
and there was nothing I cared to do." 

" How have you spent your time, then ? 
The roses were lovely." 

" Certainly ; but one knew they would be, 
and I like to be surprised. I have spent my 
time in looking for you." 

11 Then I hope you were surprised when 
you found me." 



SELF-CONFEST. 147 

11 That pleasure didn't need any theatrical 
accessory," he said ; " and I knew you were 
here, and only wanted looking for." 

Juliet did not answer. She felt, as he 
did, that this was only light skirmishing to 
tnve them time for arranging their forces for 
the attack. She had not left the crowd and 
come down here to be quiet for the sake of 
frittering her time in hackneyed remarks, 
whose aroma of compliment was detestable 
to her. On the contrary, she had nerved 
herself to say a great deal, and to say it, too, 
forcibly and significantly. The exceptional 
opportunity, and a cowardly desire to get 
him away from the scrutiny of Doctor Thorns, 
had actuated her to respond calmly to his 
wish, and she really felt that otherwise she 
was unbiassed and free from individual plea- 
sure in being quietly alone with him. But 
the very fact of her impressing this upon her- 
self proved that she had feared, or expected, 
an intenser feeling, and that, had not this 



148 JULIET. 

opportunity arisen, she might have been dis- 
appointed. 

It was Ormrod who broke first on to the 
debateable ground by asking if she had re- 
ceived his note. 

" Yes," said Juliet. 

" And you would not have come here but 
for Doctor Thorns ? ' 
" No." 

She spoke firmly and dispassionately, and 
he was nonplussed. 

" You must have had some good reason, 
for I should not like to think you either fickle 
or inconsistent," he said. 

11 I had the best of reasons. I meant to 
act as seemed best, both for you and me," she 
said, in a low tone. 

" And perhaps for me more particularly ? ' 
he asked. 

She glanced at him as though impelled by 
some irresistible attraction. It was a glance, 
half passionate, half imploring, and made him 



SELF-CONFEST. 149 



feel that heaven hung upon her answer. But 
she did not answer. They had come to a 
shady corner, with a seat, and she drew to- 
wards it, proposing that they should sit down, 
more for the sake of saying something trivial 
and inconsequent, and sounding her own 
voice, than because she wished to sit down, 
for no sooner had they done so than she re- 
gretted the motionless proximity, and longed 
to get up again and walk away. However, 
she might not have done so had she known 
that she must. 

Ormrod was leaning forward, poking the 
gravel with his stick, and carefully intent 
upon the number of prods it took to make a 
respectable hole. He had looked at her once 
or twice, but her face was turned away. 
Never in his life had he wished to say so 
much, and been so utterly at a loss how to 
say it. 

" You speak as though there were danger 
to us in friendship," he said, at last ; " but 



i5o JULIET. 

surely I might run a risk without involving 
you in it. And there is much in which 
your influence might be of immense service 
to me." 

" But it has not struck me as necessary 
that I should exert any influence for your 
benefit," she said, smiling slightly. 

" If you could be interested, I should be 
grateful." 

" I am interested," she replied, with 
emphasis. 

" Miss Quin said you would snub 
me. 

" I don't wish to snub you I should 
despise a man whom I thought fit to snub, 
and I don't wish to despise you." 

" I sincerely hope you will do the reverse," 
he exclaimed. 

"I daresay I shall, justly," she said, and 
then she was silent, wondering at her 
irksome difficulty in speaking. The whole 
conversation seemed to go on stilts. He 



SELF- CONFEST. 1 5 1 

had expressed himself frankly; but she 
dare not be frank, lest she should be free, 
and lapse into animated, fascinating remi- 
niscence and anticipation. There was a 
great deal she should like to say, but it did 
not seem safe. She was equally afraid ot 
him and of herself. 

Miss Laybourne," said Ormrod, sud- 
denly; "have you taken a vow of celi- 
bacy ? " 

" No," she said, turning and meeting 
his eyes with a large startled wonder in 
her own. 

" And why do you shrink from admi- 
ration ? " 

"I do not," she said; " no, I enjoy 
it. I should be a canting hypocrite if 
1 did not. It is pleasant to give plea- 
sure, and I know I have the power in 
many ways. It is a gift, and commands 
admiration." 

14 Probably if any one could honestly con- 



152 JULIET. > 

fess that they saw nothing to admire about 
you, you would have an impression that 
they were rather dense and uncompre- 
hending." 

" There is a little stupidity in the world," 
she said archly. 

But though he was observing her care- 
fully, he felt that that archness was scarcely 
spontaneous — in her voice certainly, but 
carrying no illumination to her pale and 
serious face. As yet she did not respond 
to him. 

" Do you wish to consider me stupid ? ' 
he asked. 

"Oh no! Why? How could I?" she 
said, turning again toward him. But as yet 
she had not caught the drift of this exami- 
nation. 

" You only wish me to accept myself as 
such ? " he pursued. 

" No; that would be absurd." 

"Then how is it? You don't wish me to 



SELF-CONFEST. 153 

acknowledge, even to myself, how very much 
I admire you, still less to allow the slightest 
hint to convey itself to you, and yet you 
credit me with sense and feeling." 

" Scarcely with taste, however," she said ; 
and for a moment he thought she was des- 
perately offended ; but then she added in a 
voice that struggled to be calm, and suc- 
ceeded only in being tremulous, "You should 
not say such things. They are an offence to 
good-breeding, a solecism. Je vons admire 
must be suggested, not expressed." 

" I will never again fall into the error," he 
said, bowing. 

" I hope not." 

" Simply because there will never be oc- 
casion. I have expressed frankly a feeling 
which will never have to give way to 
another." 

" Oh ! You do not know yet," Juliet ex- 
claimed vehemently, and her low, passionate 
voice thrilled him. She had turned pale too, 



i 5 4 JULIET. 

a sign of feeling which he well remembered ; 
and then there rushed over her face a tide of 
warm colour that intensified the limpid bril- 
liancy of her eyes, and, self-confest, she 
looked at him with pathetic, deprecatory 
reproach that was delicious and yet intoler- 
able to herself. 

Involuntarily, Ormrod rose and stood be- 
fore her. A suspicion of the truth had flashed 
upon him, carrying him back to half- forgotten 
episodes of boyhood with startling vividness, 
and clothing them in a light bewildering in its 
unexpectedness. For a moment he felt 
delirious, and that he must act upon the 
feeling ; but Juliet looked up, meeting his 
awakened questioning gaze, and, conscious of 
her own wavering to weakness, took instant 
alarm, and rose too, exercising a strong self- 
control that staggered j 1 j m ulto emulation in 
spite of himself. 

"You are talking nonsense/ 1 she said, 
coldly. "What do you know of the world? 



SELFCONFEST. 155 



You have met no one. You should act in 
nothing without experience, and that can only 
be gained by time. When you have travelled 
and been in intercourse with others vou will 
feel this." 

He did not speak. He was pale with the 
effort at self-repression and the shock of being 
thrown back upon himself. But he looked 
denial, and her colour rose again as she 
walked on, conscious of his new knowledge, 
but battling against the longing to challenge 
it. Her mind was in a tumult. Her reso- 
lutions had faded into air, her intentions 
proved themselves chimeric, and yet she was 
elated, exultant, bewilderingly happy in a 
resentful, combative style peculiarly her own. 
She knew now how much she had cared for 
him years ago, and from what conflicting 
feeling love was gaining the mastery over 
hate ; but it was her wish not again to chal- 
lenge grief and disappointment, to be acted 
upon rather than to act, being possessed by 



156 JULIET. 

her idea of the safety and wisdom of those 
who take life dispassionately. Thus she 
struggled against this new satisfaction, 
though conscious that her scruples were 
theoretic, since human beings cannot be 
statues, and suspicious that feeling was 
not vanquished, and still held depths 
that might prove themselves beyond her 
control. 

This excitement told upon her, making 
her flushed and brilliant ; and as they walked 
back, meeting many whom she knew, not a 
few remarks were passed upon her. and, 
necessarily too, upon her companion. Both 
felt this observation, and she kindled under 
it, talking on safe social topics, unconscious 
of the fascination low tones acquire when 
earnest over trivialities. And Ormrod 
walked by her side, spinning loose pebbles 
with his cane and listening to all she said, 
incredulous of the confession on which they 
had verged a few minutes before, except 



SELF-CONFEST. 



i57 



when he glanced at her, and realized how 
different was this face, with its glowing eyes 
consciously avoiding his, to that of tranquil 
coldness that had fronted him on the terrace 
an hour before. 








-_5^i 



JSrj 



CHAPTER X. 



ADVANCE. 

Ormrod was wrong in the supposition that 
Juliet had purposely avoided him. She had 
simply been careful not ro throw herself in 
his way. She knew they must constantly 
meet, for there was now little prospect of his 
leaving England before the new vear, and he 
was fully identified with the Quins and their 
movements. But although she longed to 
meet him, she had been shy of doing so. 
Once or twice she had wnc where she ex- 
pected he would be, but they missed each 
other, and her temperament was exactly 
opposed to his, in that the oftener she missed 



ADVANCE. 158 



him the better she was able to satisfy her 
disappointment by reflecting that they were 
evidently not intended to meet. This feel- 
ing was in no way abated when she received 
his letter, and there seemed little chance of 
her seeing- him again before thev returned to 
Coombe. Nor did his letter affect her. She 
had declared to Isabel that she should not go 
to the rose show, and her resolution did not 
swerve. When the prospect of seeing him 
became imminent, she found that she both 
longed and dreaded to see him, for she was 
not by any means certain that she should be 
able to maintain her self-possessed composure, 
and not betray feeling, however slightly. She 
was not ashamed of her tears, and the relief 
had been far too great for her to resent her 
own emotion ; but the more she thought of 
them, the more it seemed that they had 
formed a bond between Ormrod and herself 
such as she had never made with any other 
man. If he, too, had felt this, then he must 



160 JULIET. 

know that he possessed an influence over her. 
So long as she was in doubt on this point, she 
thought herself safest away from him. His 
letter set this doubt at rest. It became evi- 
dent not only that he had felt it, but that he 
wished to ratify it and push it to its utmost 
limits, But she would not answer that letter, 
or place herself in communication with him. 
She neither wished to be hurried nor to hurry 
him. Ratification mi^ht or micrht not ensue. 
It was written in the book of fate, and what 
was written w T ould arrive. Involuntarily, 
her attitude became that of expectation. 

She was surprised when Doctor Thorns 
unexpectedly arrived. She knew, the mo- 
ment she saw him, that he must have come 
to see the rose show, and that he would per- 
suade her to go with him. The hour had 
brought the man, and both were to play 
upon her. She decided before he asked her 
that she would go with him, and if she met 
Ormrod would accept it as a sign that it was 



ADVANCE. 161 



decreed they should meet and that their 
friendship should advance. She felt that 
they must meet with self-consciousness, and 
that, as a step to more than friendship, no 
emotion was so eloquent and betraying as 
that of self-consciousness. Doctor Thorns 
was, however, useful to her in more than the 
direct way ; he gave her confidence in her own 
powers of composure. 

Afterwards, when it was all over, and she 
sat late into the night thinking, she was 
obliged to own that her composure had, 
however, signally failed her. She had begun 
well, but Ormrod's line of argument had 
been too strong for her, and she had be- 
trayed trepidation before she realized that 
she was feeling it. She wondered greatly at 
the ebb that succeeded with such insistency 
the flow of the tide of her feelings, and be- 
came again passive as she groped for its 
significance. In the succeeding days, she 
met Ormrod casually in many places, and 

VOL. I. II 



1 62 JULIET. 

under a variety of circumstances, but none 
afforded an opportunity for conversation of 
a private nature. The probability of meet- 
ing, however, filled their minds with constant 
speculation, and fired an interest which might 
otherwise have smouldered. 

Doctor Thorns was still in town. He 
had intended to return home the day after 
the rose show, but sent, instead, for a port- 
manteau of clothes, and remained. He had 
been quick to take alarm for Juliet, and — for 
himself. The perception that another was 
in the field roused him to the knowledge 
that he was already there, and determined 
him not to yield an inch of his ground. But 
he could not yet seriously believe that Orm- 
rod was a rival whom he must fear. He 
dubbed him an " audacious young dog," 
whom she had fascinated, but whose in- 
fluence over her could only be that to which 
every woman must temporarily yield when 
she becomes an object of adoration to a 



ADVANCE. 163 



member of the opposite sex. That this in- 
fluence could be lasting, he would not 
acknowledge to himself; yet he acted as 
though he did acknowledge it, and, before 
the end of his visit, was constrained to face 
it as a fact. But it was a fact that seemed 
to him sacrilegious, and he swore that its 
fulfilment must not befall. He was a keen 
observer of character, and had in those days 
abundant opportunity for observing Ormrod. 
Apart from his own pretensions, he saw that 
Ormrod would make her no worthy husband. 
He was shifty, not to be depended upon, 
meretricious. It was preposterous that she 
should think of throwing herself away upon 
such a fellow. He was not, in this view of 
the case, actuated by jealousy ; neither did 
he care that Ormrod was the son of a car- 
penter, knowing well that in these days it 
does not signify what a man has been, com- 
pared with what he is ; but the hitch lay 
precisely in the contemptuous designation of 



1 64 JULIET. 

him as a fellow. He would not call a good 
man a fellow ; she must marry a good man 
who would do her justice, and about whose 
morals she would never suffer a misgiving. 
He was not by any means sure of Ormrod's 
morals, or that he possessed other than an 
apology for principles ; and this justified him 
in laying plans totally opposed to those 
Ormrod was laying. 

At this time, Ormrod was laying plans 
with a resolution and clearness of aim which 
were utterly novel to him, but not dispro- 
portionate to the value of the object before 
him. He had been, in the first place, fasci- 
nated by Juliet, then flattered, piqued, per- 
plexed, and again satisfied. But when he 
attained this satisfaction, it was at the cost 
of contentment. She might be kind and 
gracious ; but those counted as nothing, so 
long as she was not more. He must win 
the utmost man can win from woman, or it 
seemed to him that life would not be worth 



ADVANCE. 165 



living, and his own existence intolerable. 
He had almost forgotten Molly. The fact 
that he was supposed, at Moorhead, to be 
devoted to her as a lover, now seemed so 
preposterous, that he laughed, pooh-poohed, 
and overlooked the necessity for disabusing 
her mind of the idea, as his had already been 
disabused of it. His whole soul was bent 
upon winning Juliet. He found himself in 
love with her. She seemed to him a peerless 
woman. 

When, at last, Mrs. Mompesson was 
declared by her physician fit to travel, he 
determined that he must make his venture 
with Juliet. He could not allow her to leave 
with the momentous question still in abey- 
ance. He knew that she had already, with 
tact and decision, escaped from many oppor- 
tunities that had been favourable, or might 
easily have been made so, for approaching a 
delicate subject ; and he would have liked 
to know how far she regretted this elusion. 



1 66 JULIET. 

There was no surer index of his sincerity 
and single-mindedness at this crisis than the 
fact that he was troubled for the first time 
in his life by diffidence. He could not feel 
certain of success, and the uncertainty dis- 
tracted and harassed him. 

It was arranged that, on the night before 
the Mompessons were to return to Coombe, 
they should dine with Mr. and Mrs. Quin. 
When Ormrod heard of this, he resolved 
that he would then seize or make his oppor- 
tunity. Probably Juliet was conscious of 
this determination ; but she was not conscious 
how she would be biassed. Doctor Thorns 
had contrived to exert an influence over her 
without obtruding himself, and she was 
doubtful of herself, and not unvaryingly en- 
couraging to Ormrod. She, however, dressed 
that night with more care and thought than 
she had ever expended upon her toilette 
before ; and when she entered Mrs. Ouin's 
drawing-room, she felt that the result was 



ADVANCE. 167 



happy. Though she might not care for 
admiration, she would have missed it had it 
not existed. Ormrod had not the bliss of 
taking her down to dinner. She was appor- 
tioned to Sir Marmaduke Tatton, to his 
unbounded satisfaction ; and Doctor Thorns 
sat opposite to her. Isabel had arranged 
this. She was not so absorbed in her own 
prospects as to ignore those of others, and 
having by this time gained a tolerably clear 
perception of the currents that encompassed 
Juliet, could not resist endeavouring to in- 
fluence them according to her own notion of 
the fitness of things. These notions took 
an aggravating form, now and then, from 
her wish not to place Juliet on a par with 
Ormrod. When he found himself placed at 
table to-night, below the salt, as it were, his 
determination became the firmer. There 
are minds which rebound like elastic from 
adverse pressure, and gain impetus to tend 
in an opposite direction than that intended. 



168 JULIET. 

After dinner he sat a few minutes only 
over his wine, and returning to the drawing- 
room, made his way at once to Juliet. She was 
standing near the piano, looking through some 
music, and turned when she heard his voice. 

" I want to show you my last effort," he 
said. " Will you come with me to the studio 
for a few moments ? ' 

His voice was low, and he was uncon- 
cealedly nervous. Under such circumstances 
in her lover, a woman either loses or acquires 
self-control. Juliet acquired it, but yet ac- 
ceded so gracefully that he gained encourage- 
ment, as she wished him to do. They went 
out so quietly as to be unobserved, and found 
the studio empty, but illuminated. Juliet 
took an envelope from her pocket, and placed 
it in his hand. 

"It is my poem of Cyoeraeth" she said. 
" Read it, as you wished to do, and tell me 
if you find it what you want for the idea of 
which you told me." 



ADVANCE. 169 



He did not answer, but drew towards her 
a chair, whose cushions and opossum skin he 
arranged before begging her to sit down. They 
seemed to have forgotten the picture on his 
easel. When she was seated, and he had 
brought her a footstool, he opened the enve- 
lope. 

" At this moment I have scarcely patience 
to read it," he said. 

" I will repeat it to you," she said ; and 
without hesitation she began to do so. 

" She girt herself in her robes of grey, 
She girt them close around, 
As they trailed with a tremulous, beating sway 

Alow on the misty ground ; 
The cold damp lay on her wind-blown hair, 

Wild hair as black as the night, 
While her face was fair, her feet were bare, 
And her raiment misty-white. 

' Maiden, who are you ? ' cried I, 
As she softly passed me by. 
Mournfully came her reply — 
' I am Cyoeraeth ! ' 
(Ah ! the poison of her breath !) 



r 7 o JULIET. 

" The cold damp lay 'neath her darkened eyes, 
The drops fell from her brow, 
Like answering tears to the echoing sighs 

Of her sad voice, strained and low. 
It lay like shadows on her hair — 
Wind-toss'd, and black as night, 
While her face was fair, her feet were bare, 
And her raiment was misty-white. 

' Maiden, why come you ? ' cried I, 
As she softly passed me by. 
Mournfully came her reply — 
' I come a little while with Death ! 
He calls me his queen — Cyoeraeth ! ' 
(Ah ! the poison of her breath ! ) " * 

As she finished, Ormrod involuntarily 

sighed. 

" You make me shudder," he said. 

Juliet smiled, somewhat uncertainly. She 
had thrown all her dramatic power into the 
recitation, and her eyes had gazed through- 
out into vacancy with a mournfulness from 
which he recoiled. The exertion had ex- 
hausted her, coming, as it did, close upon 
personal feeling, and she sat silent. 

* K. C, author of "Songs of Many Days." 



ADVANCE. 171 



" Who was she ? " he asked. 

" The Welsh goddess of mists and mala- 
ria vapours." 

" I wish you would not look as though 
you had seen her," Ormrod said, " unless you 
will sit for her. Your face is haunting. I 
shall never get a better model for the sub- 
ject. 

He was leaning against an easel, looking 
down at her, and she looked up involuntarily, 
thrilled by something inexpressibly fervent 
and significant in his voice. But scarcely for 
a moment did she dare to meet that glance 
that made her pale, and sent a strange, wild 
light over her face, a will-o'-the-wisp light of 
love that flickered fitfully, and then left her 
quiet and unresponsive once more, strong in 
her own strength, with conscious power still 
at her command. 

He came down and stood before her with 
folded arms. 

u You tantalize me," he said. 



172 JULIET. 

" I cannot help it," she answered, scarcely 
above a whisper. " You must give me time/' 

" I will give you anything you wish. You 
know for what I wish." 

" I only wish for that at present." 

"It is very little/' he said, " apparently. 
So little, that I should scarcely be satisfied, 
but that it seems to me pregnant of much in 
the future. It is easy to wait when one has 
faith." 

"It is faith that I lack," she said, with 
wistful tremulousness. 

M In me ? Try to acquire it, will you ? 
I will give you until Christmas, when we 
shall probably meet at Coombe," he said, 
softly. 

" I will try," she said. 

And he bent down, raising her hand to 
his lips, and kissing it in a way that made 
her heart beat madly, and compelled her to 
sit still a moment to recover her senses. 




CHAPTER XI. 



MISGIVINGS. 



And this was all that passed. It seemed so 
little, so short, that afterwards Juliet could 
scarcely believe all of which it had been 
significant. Ormrod did not dare to urge her 
further, nor did she feel that she could have 
borne him to do so. Rut in their minds 
everything of which they had long been con- 
scious as importunate was settled, and both 
knew that it was so, and that a full and 
mutual declaration was only a matter for 
time. Meanwhile, Juliet, at least, felt that 
there was a halo thrown around her life, 
deliciously vague and intangible, but through 



174 JULIET. 

which she could at any moment stretch forth 
her hand to meet his. 

They sat in the studio a little longer, then 
returned to the drawinpf-room, where the 
gentlemen now were. Isabel, sitting on a 
distant couch with Mompesson, saw them 
enter, and sprang up at once to ask her to 
sing. 

" Have you been enjoying yourself? " she 
said, as they went together to the piano. 
" You have a tell-tale face, after all, dear ; do 
you know ? " 

"I try to know," said Juliet; " but 
I find it the most difficult thing in the 
world." 

" So bad already ! " cried Bel. " Yet what 
a fascination in linking the old with the new. 
He was sure to fall in love with you ! v she 
exclaimed, softly, with an arch glance over 
her shoulder, as she struck the first notes of 
Virginia Gabriel's " When Sparrows Build ; ' 
and Juliet, inspired more than she knew by 



MISGIVINGS. 175 



this assurance, turned to the room, and sang 
as she had never sung before. 

Doctor Thorns came up to her after- 
wards, breaking the silence that fell upon 
her listeners after the last lingering 
chords. 

" That will do," he said, in his dogmatic 
fashion. "Shut the piano, and don't let us 
treat it as a pearl among swine by wanting 
another. " Now," he. added, placing a chair 
for her, "how much have you discovered of 
Narcissus's previous proceedings ; how many 
Deorna lasses has he in that folio of his ? how 
many hearts has he broken already ? " 

" We were not talkine of — 



>> 



" Oh, no," interrupted this peremptory 
man, who was in one of his most aggressive 
moods, "not talking, but looking things un- 
utterable. That is the way. Well, now, 
you may be a fool, but I am not, and I don't 
mean you to marry a knave ! Control your- 
self, and let us be sensible. You shall have 



176 JULIET. 

another talk with him, and my cool judgment 
shall set you straight." 

As he spoke he got up and walked 
across to Ormrod, who was looking at some 
American woodcuts with Lily. 

" Come and join Miss Laybourne and 
me," he said, bluntly, and Ormrod rose, flash- 
ing a grateful look to Juliet, under the im- 
pression that she had sent for him. In 
another moment the three formed a group 
apart from every one else, and the doctor 
opened a fire, which Juliet was far indeed 
from suspecting, under cover of Mrs. Ouin's 
quill-scratching on one side, and on the other 
Isabel's audacious compliance with Mompes- 
son's request for some ballads. 

The doctor felt that the moment for 
action had arrived. When he entered the 
drawin«f-room after dinner and found neither 
Ormrod nor Juliet, a great misgiving seized 
him. Could it be possible that she was 
infatuated, and would listen to his suit ? He 



MISGIVINGS. 177 



had during the last few days written confi- 
dentially to Miss Gliddon with inquiries 
about Ormrod, and her reply satisfied his 
worst suspicions. But Juliet's manner to 
Ormrod had misled him ; he concluded his 
misgivings were unnecessary, and communi- 
cated nothing to her. Now, however, he 
resolved to push a sorry truth home upon 
both, but, as it were, by haphazard. He drew 
him gradually into easy conversation on 
various subjects, then referred to Moorhead, 
declaring that he never lost interest in a place 
he had once known and people he had 
once met. Cursorily, he asked after many 
Wherndale people, dwelling some time upon 
Brunskill, and at last seeming by an effort to 
remember Alderdale and the Murdocks. 

" There was a taking little lass there 
when I last saw it," he said ; " a child with 
something of the Babes in the Wood story 
about her. Has the old place hipped her at 

all, or is she as bonny as she promised ? ' 
VOL 1. 12 



178 JULIET. 

" Some think her unusually bonny — the 
cotton-gowned type, you know," said Ormrod. 

" Beauty of Wkerndale, I suppose ? She'll 
be putting her head into the noose soon. 
Who does she favour ? " 

" Brunskill wants her, but she'll be hard 
to win," said Ormrod, after the pause of 
scarcely a moment. 

" Coquette ? " 

" Oh, dear, no ! " 

The words were uttered as by one having 
authority, and the doctor saw that he was oft' 
his guard, by the complacent smile curving 
his moustache. This smile was, however, 
repressed when he raised his eyes and met 
the doctor's. The gaze they encountered 
caused them to fall again, with the further 
damning evidence of a blush and uneasy 

O J 

movement in his chair. These si^ns of con- 
cealment were sufficient, since in the doctor's 
opinion he was not the man to blush from 
feeling. There was a pause, which Ormrod, 



MISGIVINGS. 



179 



in spite of his consciousness of shifty pur- 
pose, was the only one of the three not to 
consider momentous, for he did not under- 
stand Doctor Thorns, still less fear him, and 
thought him simply grotesque, irritable, and 
prying. Juliet, however, was roused to 
suspense, and sat excruciatingly expectant. 
The doctor had forborne to glance at her, 
knowing his glance would have expressed 
triumph ; but accustomed as she was to his 
penetration and quick aim, this reflective 
silence, like the cat's, that crouches before it 
springs, could only be significant. She had 
forgotten his deliberate purpose in drawing 
Ormrod out at all ; the conversation had 
flowed so smoothly as to lull her misgivings 
over their agreeing ; she was enjoying herself 
precisely in the safety for which she had 
hoped, and it did not even yet enter into her 
mind that Ormrod had something to conceal. 
She glanced at him, but he was staring at 
the carpet, apparently lost in thought ; then 



i8o JULIET. 

at Doctor Thoms, and his concentrated ex- 
pression made her gasp. Instinctively she 
knew that he was preparing a master stroke, 
that strategy had bored its patient way to 
daylight, and that the daylight would be 
blinding. 

" You intend to spend these holidays with 
the Gliddons, don't you?' he said, turn- 
ing to Juliet with a commanding nod, that 
enforced not only self-control but acquies- 
cence. 

"Yes," said Juliet, compelled, she knew 

not how. 

" Where are they going ? To the sea ? ' 

asked Ormrod. 

" No, no. She goes to them, at Moor- 
head, you know," said the doctor. 

"At Moorhead!" he exclaimed, in un- 
mistakable dismay, and looking up suddenly 
at Juliet, he met her large gaze of startled 
and agonized apprehension. 

44 Don't eo ! Not this year ! ! he added, 



MISGIVINGS. 181 



involuntarily, in a tone of entreating explana- 
tion. 

"Why shouldn't she go ?" demanded the 
doctor, uttering the very words that were 
beating in her head without her lips having 
power to express them. 

" I never thought of such a thing," said 
Ormrod, lamely, and again he looked at 
Juliet, throwing into his eyes all the passion 
and persuasion of which he was capable. He 
knew now that he had been entangled ; the 
doctors resolute, calm deliberation assured 
him of the fact. But Juliet might relent. 
Surely she would abandon this intention, of 
which she had been cruel not to warn him. 
He did not penetrate the stratagem, or per- 
ceive that she was not a free-agent, and now, 
on the brink of discovery, he saw the enor- 
mity of his conduct, and felt that nothing he 
could say would palliate it in her considera- 
tion. He did not think of Molly, but he saw 
himself denuded by his own infatuated care- 



i$2 JULIET. 

lessness of what he now held most dear — 
Juliet Laybourne's esteem and love. The 
thought drove him to desperation, and he 
determined to make one last effort to gain 
time and win her over to believe in him. He 
got up and put his hand on her arm. 

" Come with me a moment," he said, in 
a low voice, that strove to be self-assured 
and was only hoarse. 

Juliet shivered, looking at him fixedly 
and sitting still. 

" I must speak to you," he said, still more 
urgently. 

" No," she said. 

"And you will go?" 

"Yes." 

He remained for a moment in the same 
position, and she sat thrilling under his touch, 
which had involuntarily tightened into a grip, 
that spoke volumes of his fear of losing her. 
It was the longest moment of her life. Every 
nerve was strained to the utmost in hope and 



MISGIVINGS. 183 

yearning that he would give some sign that 
he loved her, no matter what stood between 
them — some sign of which no man could rob 
her, not even the doctor, who, she dimly felt, 
would expect her gratitude for his penetra- 
tion. And her patience was not in vain. 
Ormrod suddenly pulled himself together, 
and gave her full measure of the only thing 
possible under the circumstances — a look into 
which was crowded love, reproach, entreaty, 
and passionate, reassuring appeal. It made 
her dizzy, turned her pale, suffused her eyes 
with happy tears, swept the ghost of a smile 
over her whole face, and left her trembling. 

Then he went away. She heard the door 
close upon him. 

Isabel passed just then, and looked at her 
curiously. 

" How ill you look ! Are you faint ? " she 
said. 

" I was never better in my life," said Juliet, 
rising, and involuntarily throwing her arms 



1 84 JULIET. 

above her head like a tragedy-queen. She 
did not glance at Doctor Thorns, who seemed 
to dwindle beside her, but he drew her apart 
into the curtained recess of a window. 

" Is it too late ? " he asked. 

She laughed, with a gleam of brilliant 
defiance in her eyes. 

" He is a knave," urged the doctor. 

"Take care what you say," she remarked, 
quietly. 

" You are his dupe." 

" Perhaps you are mine." 

He started as though she had struck him, 
but she was smiling, and he knew the arrow 
was not intended to be poisoned. 

" You are intoxicated, drunk, but not with 
wine, Calypso." 

" Let me be," she said. 

"Juliet, Juliet! would you marry a 
knave ? ' he broke out, peering at her ; and 
his voice rang with keen pain. 

" Dear friend," she said, touched and 



MISGIVINGS, 185 



touching, " after all I am a thorny rose, am I 
not?" 

And that was as much sense or nonsense 
as he could get out of her. She left him, 
and went and sang again, a wild and pas- 
sionate song of Schubert's, that had some- 
thing dirge-like in it, over which her whole 
soul seemed to triumph. 

Then they went home, and she girt her- 
self up to go to Moorhead at last. 




CHAPTER XII. 



BY THE WHERN. 



No sooner had Ormrod vanished from 
Moorhead, taking with him the outward and 
visible nightmare which haunted Brunskill's 
mind, of the Sunday evening on the Moss, 
than Brunskill was drawn into closer contact 
with Molly than he had ever believed would 
be possible, except under conditions now 
rendered impossible. 

Circumstances are often cruel under the 
guise of kindness, and they had been in his 
case. When Molly went to the Vicarage, it 
was with the intention of leaving at the end 
of a week or two, but Mr. Gliddon managed 
during that time to catch a cold, which deve- 



BY THE WHERN. 187 

loped into a severe attack of bronchitis, and 
when Molly talked of going home, Miss 
Gliddon declared she must stay ; there were 
many things she could do, besides affording 
her cheerful company. Parish work devolved 
upon Brunskill, he being ready and willing, 
and Miss Gliddon devoting herself to the 
sick room. Every day found him at the 
Vicarage, giving and receiving details of 
work. It was hard to go while Molly was 
there, to have to keep up the old demeanour 
of unobtrusive consideration now that its life- 
germ had dwindled into a mere husk ; agony 
to control himself, to hide from her his self- 
knowledge, to be conventional yet not repel- 
ling. All these necessities forced themselves 
upon him the more strongly from his long 
self-control. Happily, Molly was at this 
time too self-absorbed to be very observant, 
but though she thus escaped the evil of per- 
ception and surprise, she ran into the cruelty 
of innocent confidence in him and his un- 



1 88 JULIET. 

varying kindness, absolutely drawing to 
him and compelling his attention. She 
thought him quieter than usual, that was all. 
Thus there very quickly worked in his 
brain a madness which it became almost 
intolerable to keep under. And yet he 
did keep it under, he could not tell how ; but 
something helped him, kept him straight in 
self-denying purpose, clear of self-blame. He 
never knew how it was. He was only con- 
scious of a burning unrest, of a constant 
craving to be near her, and when he was, 
of icy quiet that melted into fervent heat 
again the moment he was alone. He used to 
go up to the Vicarage chiefly in the evening, 
and find her either in the crarden, flitting!' 
busily with scissors and matting among Miss 
Gliddon's flowers, or cosy with her work in 
the pretty drawing-room ; and there was no 
doubt that she was elad to see him. He 
was an old friend ; in those days she regarded 
him as fatherly. 



BY THE WHERN. 189 

But Brunskill felt far from fatherly as he 
sat by her, lulled by the charm of her femi- 
nineness, of her pretty ways that were in- 
tensely restful to a man coming in from his 
day's work among rough folk. They did 
not talk much. He was content simply to 
sit regarding her as she worked unconscious, 
rousing now and again from thoughts that 
carried her far away, to make some remark, 
ask some question, glance at him, smile and 
look down again. He watched and watched 
in pale silence, never tired of watching, 
absorbed in the present moment. It was 
afterwards, when he had placed his hand 
silently in hers, without daring to lift his eyes, 
and the door had closed upon her and shut 
him out alone, that that maddening rush of 
thought to the " might have been," over- 
whelmed him and sent him into intenser soli- 
tude than his walk home or his own rooms 
could afford, sent him up the hills to the vast, 
wild, quiet moors. 



190 JULIET. 

How awfully quiet they were, stretching 
round him for miles, their outlines unbroken 
in the twilight, or black as ink against the 
slow spreading of steely light, as the moon 
peered above their edge, and sent its smile 
to suffuse the sleeping valley and conjure up 
strange shadows ! He used to walk for 
miles, plunging knee-deep in ling, sinking in 
rush and sphagnum, leaping from the gaunt 
rocks, startling sheep and moor birds, and 
exhausting himself physically and morally. 
But he wrung the neck of his grief, exorcised 
the demon of self, quenched the animal in 
him, and felt something else growing from 
which he did not shrink, but which he got to 
hug close home to his heart and live with — 
something wholly intangible, to which he 
could sfive no name, but which saved him 
from riding roughshod over his own feelings, 
through the accepted consciousness that it 
was good to live with, because it made him 
a better man. 



B Y THE WHERN. 1 9 r 

Thus he fought his fight alone with God 
and nature, and gradually drew deeper and 
deeper draughts at the proffered cup of 
simple faith. Then he grew calm, self- 
possessed, with power to ignore the havoc 
worked, the blank made, and to look forward 
to the ripening of other interests. 

But such a struggle takes time ; it is long- 
drawn out, and events pressed on through- 
out it. 

Molly's visit came to an end, and she 
went back to the sordid atmosphere which 
was becoming more and more natural to the 
presence of Matthew Murdock ; for he was 
drinking more deeply each week, exacting 
more economy from Tamar, and losing more 
money in risky speculations and fuddled 
bargains with cattle-jobbers and wool-buyers 
than any other man in the Dale. 

Molly went home to all this from her 
happy time at the Vicarage one August 
evening, when the ling was in its best " blow " 



1 92 JULIET. 

on the Moss, and the gnarled, wind-bent 
rowans in the hollow where she and Noll had 
plighted troth were aglow with big tassels 
of scarlet berries. She gathered some of them, 
and some yellowing bracken and fragile hare- 
bells from the rushy pasture where the cows 
were, knowing the bowls in the kitchen 
would be empty for want of her. There was 
no one to be seen as she crossed the bridge 
and went up to the door that was set ajar for 
the sunlight to fleck the sanded floor. Gene- 
rally, Tamar was waiting to welcome her with 
a strong instinct of motherliness to a mother- 
less girl, but far now from any sign of her 
big cap and bleached apron, there was no 
sound of her pattens, no chinking of milk 
cans from the dairy, or clatter of pails and 
thudding of sticks about the calves in the 
earth. All was silent, and she ran into the 
kitchen to put down her flowers before going 
to look for her. Matthew was on the lang- 
settle smoking, and she spoke to him, and 



BY THE WHERN. 193 

was running out again when he called her 
back. His voice was thick, but she had seen 
at a glance that he was not in liquor, and she 
went back and stood waiting. 

Matthew sat a moment looking at her. 
He generally ignored her, but even he could 
not but feel, now that she flashed in like a 
gleam of sunshine, that the old place looked 
the better for her presence. There was cer- 
tainly something inexpressibly winsome and 
"betterly" in this girlish figure, with her 
shadowy eyes looking forth from the quaint 
framing of the hood, which still came more 
natural to her than a hat such as other girls 
wore. He looked and broke into a reluctant 
gurgling chuckle. 

" I'm none maddled at his craze," he 
said. 

Molly stared at him in uncomprehending 

amazement, never previously having seen 

him jocose. 

" Has he set thee home ? ' he asked. 
vol. 1. 13 



194 JULIET. 

"Who, Uncle?" Molly said. 

" Who ? who, indeed? Just hear the 
lassie's innocent ways ! Folks are none so 
blind as you'd have them thought. I may 
be a lone man, Molly Murdock, but, by 
Heaven! I've gone a courting in my time, 
ay, a deal further nor ever he's had to come ; 
and I've had my mare's tail clipped while 
she waited in the stable, and wasn't laughed 
out of it, but went again. That was up to 
Angram, right under Great Whernside. 
and I whistled as I gained on the house 
and the lass came out to my whistling. It 
lasted a summer, and then she got tired o' 
listening and I got tired o' whistling, and 
she wed another man, who stepped right 
across the threshold at the first and humored 

on 

her without more ado. I was always a shy 
man, took a deal o' making up to, and maybe 
thee'rt cut after me. Now did he set thee 
back to-day ? " 

" Who ? " Mollv asked acrain. 



BY THE WHERN. 195 

" Who ? The Master," said Mat, impa- 
tiently. 

" Mr. Brunskill ? Certainly not," she said, 
and there was unmistakable decision and 
truth in her straight, unabashed gaze. 

"And why didn't he?" 

" He would not think of such a thing. 
Why should he ? He did not wish to, and I 
did not want him. He is very busy for Mr. 
Gliddon." 

" Men shouldn't be too busy to look after 
their sweethearts." 

"Sweethearts, yes; but I am not Mr. 
Brunskill's sweetheart." 

" Thee'rt not ? How's that ? He's fair 
crazed over thee. I've seen it long enough, 
and other folks have cracked on it to me. 
It's none a despisable chance, lass. Times 
are bad, and he's none a farmer to dance to 
the devil's own tune of contrary seasons, and 
American produce, and free-trade, and floods ; 
and I cannot fancy you settled to a bit 



196 JULIET. 

counter. The Master's a gentleman, I've 
always said it ; but, gentleman or no gentle- 
man, if he's been playing off and on with 

thee, by , I'll horsewhip him. I may be 

a drunkard and a rascal, but I'll none have 
a niece of mine slighted and befooled, for 

fingers to point at. No, by ! Why, 

thee'rtpoor Tony's lass, for all thee'rt so fay." 
The tears leaped to Molly s eyes ; she saw 
he was genuinely perplexed, and it perplexed 
her how to answer him, for the sudden 
realization of an unexpected fact bewildered 
her. She longed to tell the truth, since he 
seemed to have no suspicion of it, but some- 
how Ormrod's affection dwindled before this 
assurance of Brunskill's, and the brute force 
displayed in Matthew's knuckles, as he 
uttered his vehement oaths, frightened her. 
She had seen him in a rage, even when not 
drunk, and her arms knew what a gripping- 
wrist he had when he wanted to emphasize 
his words. She dared not challenge either 



BY THE WHERN. 197 



when alone, even in loyalty to Ormrod, and 
yet she longed to be honest, and trust him 
not to be angry at the thwarting of his will, 
for that unexpected allusion to her father 
proved that there was one soft spot even in 
his heart, and she could have thanked him 
for it and for the readiness to take up the 
cudgels on her behalf. 

"Oh, Uncle," she said, "never mind me. 
I'm all right." 

" All right ! ' he said ; " ay, you're all 
right just now. We're none ruined yet, but 
the time may come when you'll want a roof 
over your head, and see hunger before you." 

" There's my money. Use it," she said, 
timidly. 

" Your money be ," said Matthew. 

She was silent, certain now that her 
money had been lost, so far as its squander- 
ing went, and regarding herself from that 
moment as penniless. 

" Now, what will you say to him ?' 



1 98 JULIET. 

" Uncle, don't think of such a thing," she 
said, earnestly. " It is impossible ; and even 
if what you say about his caring for me be 
true, he knows it is impossible, and won't 
ask me." 

" Then there's some hitch ? ' 

Molly hesitated. Should she tell the 
truth, and then turn and fly ? She looked 
at his sullen face and powerful figure, 
measured the distance between the lane- 
settle and the door-way, near which she 
stood, and wondered if her bedroom door 
were open, and the bolt well oiled. It would 
not be the first sudden flight by many from 
oaths and an uplifted arm, but Tamar had 
always been there to interpose. There was 
still no sound or sign of her, and the house 
felt strangely empty and deserted. 

" Uncle, where is Tamar?' she asked, 
urgently. 

" So you've missed her at last. Well, 



she's gone. 



>} 



BY THE WHERN. 199 



Her face blanched into a picture of dis- 
may, grief, and fear. 

" Gone ! " she exclaimed, in a low, horror- 
struck voice. 

Everything seemed to darken round her, 
the light to be blurred, her hearing to thicken. 
Matthew said something which she did not 
catch. She felt herself entrapped, and ex- 
aggerated the misery of her position into one 
of actual danger in the first shock of finding 
herself alone with her uncle. Then he got 
up and went out, and she made a slow pil- 
grimage round the house, finding to her 
astonishment that all the work was done, and 
everything clean and orderly ; but she was 
too bewildered to ask any questions. The 
one fact of Tamar being away, and herself 
left to brave out alone all Matthew's moods, 
whether drunken or sober, to bear the brunt 
of his churlishness and withstand his sottish 
familiarity, was too appalling to her imagina- 
tion for it to grapple anything further. She 



200 JULIET. 

did not even wonder how he had got quit of 
her, how she could have consented to go 
without, at least, warning her, contriving in 
some way to communicate with her, or leav- 
ing a message with some trustworthy person. 
She had never spent a day, still less a night, 
alone with Matthew at Alderdale ; in her 
idea, Tamar was inseparably connected with 
the place, and such a catastrophe as her de- 
parture was simply overwhelming. She lay 
awake half the night, with the question of 
what she should do if she did not come back 
beating dully in her brain. She knew she 
could not bear then to live at Alderdale, but 
in her inexperience she did not know if she 
had the legal power to oppose Matthew's 
will and wishes, and leave him. It was not 
the work that she shrank from, or even the 
responsibility, but it was the drunkenness. 
Her horror of a tipsy man was instinctive and 
deep-rooted, and she had never tried to over- 
come it. Tamar took intoxication as a matter 



BY THE IV HERN. 201 

of course, and when Mat was seen coming 
reeling over the bridge, or swaying from side 
to side on his trusty mare, she simply " fet- 
tled " the lang-settle cushions, locked the cup- 
board, and despatched Molly to bed, with a 
stolid indifference that roused the girl's wonder 
and admiration, and made her vainly wish 
over and over again that she herself were not 
such an arrant coward. But as she never did 
more towards overcoming her cowardice than 
to listen trembling on the safe side of the 
bolted door, as he staggered upstairs with an 
intermittent accompaniment of hiccoughing, 
swearing, and threats, she was still a coward, 
and felt that small credit was due to herself 
for resisting the impulse to stuff the sheet 
into her ears, and avoid the fascination of anti- 
cipating each succeeding stumble and stutter. 
And now she was alone with him, and 
subject to a scene of this kind any night. 
No wonder she shivered, and revolved plans 
for escape, for returning to Miss Gliddon, or 



202 JULIET. 

going to Mrs. Ormrod and absolutely refus- 
ing to come back until Tamar did, or a sub- 
stitute for her was found. The old Grange 
seemed to have become ghostly too ; never 
had the rats made such a noise behind the 
wainscot, the moonlight laid such shifting, 
eerie streaks upon the walls, the shadows 
assumed such human shapes, the river sobbed 
so, as it swept under the alders ; the whole 
long night seemed so hopelessly long. Some- 
times she scarcely dared to breathe, for fancy- 
ing she heard Matthew's stealthy step going- 
down to the cupboard where the gin was 
kept ; and then again she tossed to and fro 
in useless, impatient longing for the moon to 
set, or the river to sink into silence, or more 
coolness to quench the dry heat of her little 
room. It was only at daybreak that she fell 
asleep at last, and then it was a sleep of un- 
happy dreams, too vivid not to keep her still 
restless and to make her wake again un- 
refreshed. 



BY THE WHERN. 203 



But broad sunshine is a jovial fellow when 
it surprises one late abed ; and when Molly 
awoke and found it laughing in her face in 
: place of the haunting moonshine, she laughed 
at her fears of the night, rallied her courage 
and donned again her sanguine, happy spirits 
What a fool she had been to be tormented by 
shadows! She would act quietly and de- 
liberately, without childish haste ; yes, even 
try to win her way, and exert a good influence 
over Matthew. He had taken her by sur- 
prise, but still he had been kind, and her 
whole demeanour should prove that she 
trusted him. And she must seize the very 
first favourable opportunity to tell him about 
Noll, for otherwise she felt as though she 
were acting, a lie, and doing an injustice to 
one of her best friends. He must think no 
more of Mr. Brunskill in any other light than 
that of a friend, and she must be careful in 
nothing to give colour to that rumour, but in 
everything to prove her loyalty to Noll. 



2o 4 JULIET. 

Thus she sang in her heart as she went 
about the milking and the calf-feeding, and 
wondered how in the world she had got the 
notion into her head in the night that the 
bonny beck was not singing, but sobbing, on 
its way. There was no sob in it now, as it 
glanced sparkling and eddying round rock 
and over shallow, sun-kissed and shadow- 
flecked and tree-caressed, like a happy maiden 
with lovers to choose among, and only a 
smile for them all. 

Matthew, however, was in his most surly- 
mood, and did not speak throughout break- 
fast, so she did not name Tamar, or trv to 
glean any particulars ; but she had peeped 
into the room, and found all her work-a-day 
things in the drawers as usual. Her best 
gown and shawl and bonnet were gone, a 
fact which pointed to the probability of her 
having been hastily summoned to some event 
among her own kinsfolk over in Swaledale — 
most possibly a burying, which is the most 



BY THE WHERN. 205 



important incident in domestic Dale annals ; 
and when the meal was cleared away, and she 
had watched Matthew start for the high-lying 
pastures, where he was busy harvesting the 
brackens for cattle-bedding in winter, she ran 
up the side of the little Alder beck to the 
smaller farmstead where the hind lived. His 
wife was just issuing forth to her drying- 
ground with a basket of clothes on her hip, 
and Molly relieved her of her bag of 
pegs. 

" I'll help you," she said ; " I know it was 
you who cleaned up for us last night." 

Betty Carling nodded. 

" Tamar came up and asked me to mind 
things a bit," she said ; " but it was to be 
against her home-coming, not yours, missy. 
She told me Murdock'd passed his word you 
should stay away so long as she did, for she 
kenned the Passon'd only be too pleased to 
have you about. When my man telled me 
you'd crossed the bridge at sundown, I knew 



2o6 JULIET. 

Murdock'd broken his word. I hope he was 
civil tull thee, eh ? " 

" I got a fright when I found Tamar was 
gone. How long do you think she'll be — 
over Newbridge market-day ? ' Molly asked, 
as she proceeded to shake out the clothes 
and dexterously peg them on the line to the 
wind's eye. 

" She went day before yesterday. They 
fetched a trap for her, but her brother 
wasn't dead, for all they'd lifted him out of 
bed on to the floor an hour back. He'd been 
took with a fit, and was black in the face with 
choking, but couldn't quit, so they thought 
there must be pigeons' feathers about, for all 
Tamar's mother was the most careful woman 
in such things, and it seemed to give him the 
best chance of quitting easy to spread the 
bedding on the boards, so he'd likelv be crone 
lon£ before Tamar reached him. She thought 
the burying'd be three days after. Folk don't 
keep their corpses so long now-a-days, and 



BY THE IV HERN. 207 

very well it is; saves a deal of tallow and 1 
worry, and's a sight more decent, to my 
thinking." 

" I'm afraid the funeral won't be until 
afternoon, so Tamar won't get back that 
night, will she ? " said Molly. 

" Nay, not from Swaledale. Make your- 
self easy, she'll none travel that time of day. 
The feast'll be going on an hour too, and 
they're well-to-do folk, and'll have a real good 
one. He was a widower, you ken, and I've 
heard Tamar tell of a ham that hung from a 
beam above his wife's bed when she lay dying. 
She used to look and look at it, and got it on 
her mind if only she could have a bit she'd 
be better. But he wouldn't hear of such a 
thing. ' Nay, nay, woman/ he said ; ' that's 
for thy burying.' And she died, and he telled 
the tale when he carved it at the feast after." 

" Old wretch ! he deserves to be a pig in 
another world ! ' said Molly, with a keen 
sense of vengeance startling to Betty, who 



2o8 JULIET. 

only saw in the incident a nice adjustment of 
reasonableness and civility. 

" Maybe she'll stay over Sunday," she 
suggested, agreeably. 

" Oh ! I do hope not," Molly exclaimed, 
looking over her shoulder in alarm as she 
stood on tip-toe to " fettle " an unruly 
sheet. 

14 I lay you're scared at Murdock's cups," 
said Betty. 

44 Yes, very much," Molly said. 

44 And he never gets sober from a market 
now." 

" Never ; but Tamar does not care. I 
sometimes think she would not hesitate to 
whip him, if she were so minded. She really 
treats him like a child." 

14 It's certain sure Providence is soft over 
drunkards, just as if men did their best duty 
by fuddling their senses. Well, Newbridge 
Market is the day after the burying, by my 
calculations, and I lay she'll be back even if 



Bl THE WHERN. 209 



she does think you're at Passon's. She's as 
ready to shake up the lang-settle cushions for 
Murdock drunk as she is to act motherly by 
you, missy — a sound woman all round, I 
call her." 

"If she isn't back, I don't know what I 
shall do," said Molly, sighing. 

" I'll do for you," announced Betty, cheer- 
fully clapping her on the back. 

But Betty Carling up at the high farm 

was not Tamar Verity in Alderdale Grange 

itself, as Molly realized again when daylight 

faded and she finished the day's work with 

Matthew silently watching her through the 

clouds of smoke emitted from his long pipe. 

His silence oppressed her; she found herself 

stealing about with mousey steps, and would 

have recoiled from the sound of her own 

voice had she begun to sing and hum as 

usual ; and when at last she went upstairs, 

she lingered a moment before closing her 

lattice, under an almost uncontrollable longing 
vol. 1. 14 



210 JULIET, 

to scream and evoke an answering voice out 
of the pulseless night. 

It was after dinner the following day that 
Mat announced briefly that he was going 
some miles beyond Moorhead, to try to 
clinch a bargain with a new wool-buyer who 
had appeared in the lower part of the Dale, 
and was giving something like old-fashioned 
prices for good stuff. Molly liked expe- 
ditions of this kind as little as she liked mar- 
kets, but was determined not to show any 
misgivings, and helped him to saddle the 
mare as blithely as though he had been going 
on a road without " publics " to bring Tamar 
back. Then she went in for his whip, and 
just before he mounted, she yielded to a sud- 
den impulse and reached up to him with a 
timid kiss. 

He turned and stared at her. 

<k What's that for ? " he asked. 

" Don't you like it, Uncle ?" she said. 

" Is it a bribe ? I'm none the shaved 



BY THE WHERN. 211 



spark for such as that," he returned, un- 
graciously. 

" It isn't a bribe, I know you don't care so 
far ; but," she added, wistfully, " if such a 
little thing can help to keep you right, don't 
be ashamed of letting it ; will you ? ' 

He did not answer, but mounted and rode 
off, leaving her to wonder, with a sigh, if she 
had not angered rather than pleased him ; and 
then she finished her home-work, and, com- 
mitting the cows and calves to Betty's care, 
started for the Vicarage to ask after the 
" Passon." 

She chose the path along the valley by the 
Whern. It was very hot, and not a breath of 
wind stirred the alders and oaks and mountain- 
ash that overhung the stream. But she had 
plenty of time before her, and rested here and 
there, now on a stile, now on a grassy knoll, 
until she reached the pasture at the turning 
of the valley, where Blaesfield rears its 
huge brown shoulder against the sky, and 



212 JULIET. 

rolls downwards to Beggarmote Scar. Just 
beyond this the river disappears into a rocky 
fissure in the hill-side known as Goyden Pot, 
and takes its three miles' course to Moorhead 
Vicarage underground, with a rush and a 
roar, and a fiendish grinding of rocks and 
tossing of uprooted trees, terrible to see when 
the livid water hurls itself into the cavern in 
high flood. To-day there was no flood, and 
it was thinly loitering in with an air of com- 
plete innocence of din and fury. Above, a 
beautiful moory ridge stretched against the 
serene summer blue, alternating in rock and 
ling and scrub, until it clothed itself in black- 
green pines at Thedra Wood. 

It was Molly's favourite bit in all her be- 
loved Dale — better than the " Tops," than the 
Foss at Haden Carr, than Stean Beck, and 
even the Moss ; and she sat down near a 
trough, moss-grown and grotesquely- spouted, 
to enjoy it all, drink it in, as it were. But 
she had not sat above a minute, when the 



B Y THE WHERN. 2 1 3 

gate through which she was going, swung to, 
and she saw Gilbert Brunskill coming towards 
her, with great, even strides, and a smile on 
his face. 

" I am in luck," he said, sitting down 
near her without more ado, not at her side, 
but on the grass in front, where he com- 
manded her fully. 

" We are going different ways, if that be 
luck," she said. 

" I don't think we need for once," he 
answered ; " I fancy you are going to the 
Vicarage. Well, I can tell you how the vicar 
is, and I have a book for you from Miss 
Gliddon, which I will carry for you which- 
ever way you go. You want to read a bit of 
Ruskin, don't you ? It is fortunate Miss 
Gliddon has a friend who can lend it to you. 
It's a mere fragment, a sheet torn out, as it 
were, and will only make you long for more, 
I fear. Now, need you go on ? ' 

" I'm afraid not," said Molly, ruefully. 



214 JULIET. 

"You seem ungrateful." 

" I should have enjoyed the walk and the 
talk, and now shall just go tamely back 
again, and perhaps find Betty peeping into 
my drawers, which will cost me a cough and 
sudden blindness." 

" Why tamely f Ideas are not confined 
to the lower end of the valley." 

" But you really must not come further, 
now." 

" I am going up to Haden Carr." 

" Then you'll want your tea," Molly 
exclaimed. 

"If you please," he said. 

She was silent, alarmed, and perplexed ; 
determined not to give him his tea, for fear 
Matthew should return and find them, and 
yet too soft-hearted to refuse it from what 
would seem mere prudish motives, only 
worthv of disdain. 



" There is something on your mind," he 
remarked presently. 



BY THE WHERN. 215 

" Oh ! you must not come, you can't come 
in," she said, incoherently. " Tamar is 
away," she added lamely, abashed by his 
silent amazement. 

" A most excellent reason." 

" I could give you a better," she said, 
nettled. 

" I should like to have it." 

" But I will not," she said. 

" Yes, you will. I have a clue. The 
proprieties are penetrating even to Alder- 
dale, are they not ? " 

She glanced at him, blushing, with a dis- 
tressed smile. 

" Oh, Molly ! ' he said, in a deep tone of 
regret and expostulation. 

11 I cannot help it " 

"Of course you cannot," he interrupted. 
" It rests wholly and entirely with me, and 
no breath of gossip shall touch you. I will 
go with you to-day just to the door, and it 
shall be the last time." 



216 JULIET. 

"You are very good," she said; but he 
shook his head. 

For some moments they were silent, and 
she, stealing anxious glances at him, saw that 
he was lost in thought. Many things had 
passed through her mind, as she looked 
from rock and river and wood, to bent 
and ling, and " Heaven's blue," before, 
with a deep, involuntary sigh, he spoke 
again. 

" Since this has to be the last time, may I 
talk freely to you ? ' he asked ; and seeing 
what he wished to see on her face, calm assent, 
he rose, adding in a voice at once shy and 
confident, 

" Let us walk quietly on. It will be 
easier to say what I have to say.'' 

She complied, and he gave her a quick 
glance in which pain and pleasure were 
largely mingled. 

" Molly," he said, abruptly, "there are 
things in my past life which I have a fancy 



BY THE WHERN. 217 

to tell you. I have always thought I should 
like you to know them, and I see no reason, 
even now, that you should not. I can trust 
you to respect my confidence. They affect 
no one but myself, and I have never yet 
breathed them to human creature. Has it 
ever occurred to you that there is some 
secret in my life ? " 

" I have often thought there is some 
unhappiness," she said. " I have seen a 
strange look come over your face when you 
have been thinking, and heard you sigh ; and 
you have no friends, and seem to be so much 
alone." 

" Yes," he said, " quite alone ; you are 
right. Walk slowly, Molly ; there is a great 
deal to say. If that be true about the sins 
of the fathers being visited on the children, 
I am a doomed man ; for, one winter night, 
years ago, when I was a little lad, my father 
came home drunk and killed my mother." 

Involuntarily they both stopped and stood 



2i8 JULIET. 

looking at each other. She did not speak, 
but the mute horror in her eyes changed 
slowly to a pity which he — in his craving for 
sympathy after the impenetrable reserve of 
years — felt to be divine. But for that pity 
he must have turned and fled from the sound 
of his own words ; now that, at last, the 
horrid truth had been uttered to a fellow- 
being aloud, for the four winds of heaven to 
carry where they listed, he was appalled by 
the sound of it. Ceaseless thought, tolling 
through the centuries, has no potency com- 
pared with one utterance. 

Then Molly held out her hand, and he 
wrung it, trying to speak, but failing. Blind- 
ing tears had rushed to his eyes, his face was 
one fervid glow of colour, that ebbed quickly, 
leaving him ashy pale, with a sense of ex- 
haustion, as after some great exertion. 

" You will never tell it," he said. "Ah, 
I should not ! It does not bear telling. Such 
tragedies are best buried ; but not so long 



BY THE WHERN. 219 



ago I thought you would be the one to 
whormat must be told before — in honour — at 



any cost — — 

He stopped, looking full at her — a look 
of which, for hunger, imploring, and con- 
trition, she had never seen the like. It was 
the more pitiable, from the ghost of a smile 
that he managed to send wavering across it, 
and that told her of the brave, leal heart 
behind. 

" I don't mean to say that he did it on 
purpose ; it was not deliberate murder, so 
far as I know," he said, presently, as they 
walked on ; " God only knows what it was ; 
but it seemed of the worst to me, as he 
knelt over her on that floor, and she gave 
one smothered scream, and I could do no- 
thing but shriek at him in useless, agonized 
passion, as I realized why she was writhing. 
At last she was still, and a silence as of 
the grave fell over the house. Then he got 
up and took me by the collar, and pushed 



220 JULIET. 

me before him up to the garret and locked 
me in. There was a window, however, and 
I got out on to the slates and listened. 
Presently he opened the front door and 
came out into the garden, and I, crouching 
against a chimney in dark shadow, saw him 
go and lean on the wall, his face buried in 
his hands. He was sober then, for he 
walked steadily. I wondered what he would 
do. I was certain he was crying, as he was in 
very truth ; I could hear his sobs, and they 
seemed to tear him. Once he staggered 
back and threw his arms up towards heaven, 
as though adjuring God as witness to his 
agony of mind. Then he went in again. 
I heard him moving about ; and in a few 
minutes he came out with something that I 
took to be a stick, and walking quickly 
across the fields was soon lost in the dark- 
ness. I waited for some time, but as he did 
not return, I made up my mind to get down 
by dropping from the house-roof to that of 



BY J HE WHERN. 221 

the scullery, and so to the ground. Just as 
I reached the ground, a shot was fired in the 
distance, and it flashed upon me that my 
father had been carrying a gun ; but I did 
not imagine the further horror of his having 
destroyed himself. I sprained my ankle 
in my last drop, but crawled into the 
house." 

"He had placed her on a couch, as though 

she were sleeping, and in such a position 

that the jaw could not drop, had smoothed 

and dis-spread her waving brown hair, and 

scattered everywhere, dewy red roses from 

the bushes under the wall. I sat down, 

holding her hand, and fell asleep. When I 

awoke, there were people in the room. They 

had brought my father. He was found in 

a dub, shot through the head. He must 

have stood on the bank, so as to fall in 

simultaneously with firing. There was an 

inquest, but no evidence beyond mine. He 

had been madly drunk, that was all that 



22 2 JULIET. 

could be found in extenuation ; but it ensured 
them one grave; and some good soul strewed 
it with more red roses." 

" I should have liked to do that," Molly 
said. 

" If ever you happen to be near that 

place, Cambley-under-the-Cheviots, go into 

the churchyard, and near an old thorn, in 

one corner, there is a low granite slab, with 

the initials ' M. and R. B.' Put a flower 

there, will you ? " 

"Yes," she said. "And did you live 

alone ? Was there no house near ? ' 

" We lived three miles from Camblev, in 
a thoroughly lonely district, backed by the 
hills, and the house was fully half a mile 
from the high road. We rarelv saw any one 
except at church, and were often snowed up 
in winter. My mother never liked it, and 
was constantly begging my father to leave. 
The roads were bad, and in some parts dan- 
gerous, from their sheer unprotected height 



BY THE WHERN. 223 

above the river. When he was late home, 
she would stand by the hour together in the 
porch, with a shawl over her head, and often 
the wind and rain beating against her, lis- 
tening for the ring of his horse's hoofs, and 
praying now and then aloud. He was so 
often drunk, and she feared he would fall off 
his horse into the river." 

"And had you no servants— no one in 
the house ? " 

He did not answer for a moment. 

" You push me hard," he said, with a 
sigh ; " and yet I am certain the whole ter- 
rible affair was the result of an impulse of 
drunken passion that had affected his brain 
and maddened him. But it was stranee that 
that access of fury should seize him the one 
night when we were alone. The hind had 
gone to a fair, and we were changing women- 
servants ; thus the coast was clear. But he 
was not a wicked man, Molly — only weak 
and dissipated. I think he had always been 



224 JULIET. 

dissipated, as a young man, from what my 
mother sometimes said ; and after they were 
married it increased upon him. They lived 
in the south at first, in a remote corner of 
Exmoor, where I was born, and my little sister. 
She died there, and he would stay no longer. 
So they went to Cambley, and he bought a 
farm. My mother loved him passionately, 
and he, too, loved her. No one could be 
more affectionate than he when he was sober, 
and she hung on his every word and look. 
I always associate her with that line of 
Tennyson's — 

"I do not understand, I love," 

for they were not otherwise congenial. He 
was highly educated — a First Class man of 
Oxford ; and she could barely read her Bible. 
People round knew him instinctively to be 
a gentleman. He had a handsome face and 
a commanding air. She was simply lovely, 
in the soft and gentle way distracting to 
men." 



BY THE WHERN. 225 



" And had they no relations, no friends 
coming and going ? " 

" None," he said, answering only her 
second question, though she did not know it. 
11 The Vicar of Cambley sent me afterwards 
to the national school in Carlisle, boarding 
me in the town. He took the management 
of matters, acting for my interests at the 
expense both of time and trouble. There 
was no one else to do it, and he had always 
been our friend. So long as he lived he 
looked after me, and I spent the holidays 
with him, he treating me as a gentleman and 
impressing it upon me that I was such. 
He had sold the farm and invested that 
money and a balance of ^150 in the bank,, 
to be ready for the time when I must choose 
my calling in life. It was his wish that I 
should go to Oxford. ' You are naturally a 
student, and a University course will fit you 
for any position,' he said, with deeper mean- 
ing than at the time I could fathom. Mean- 
vol. 1. 15 



22 6 JULIET. 

while, I was to take a scholarship attached 
to the national school that should raise me 
to the grammar school I did so, and was 
just on the point of taking another, that 
would have drafted me on to Brazenose, 
when my old friend died, and some papers 
of my father's, found in his care, were for- 
warded to me. I read them and changed 
my mind." 

" Because you felt it right to do so ? ' 
Molly asked. 

11 I don't think I thought of the right and 
wrong at all," Brunskill said. " They placed 
matters in so different a light that I was 
completely thrown off my balance and acted 
on impulse, under the feeling that I could 
bear nothing to which I was accustomed and 
must start afresh. I threw up everything, 
went on the tramp, and arrived here just 
when there was a berth vacant which I could 
fill. I took a fancy to the place. I have 
been happier here teaching village children 



B Y THE WHERN. 227 

than I expected ever to be again at the time 
of my coming ; so happy, that I can appre- 
ciate my troubles." 

" And believe that the sins of the 
fathers are not visited on the children ? ' 
Molly said, with her sweetest serious- 
ness. 

Brunskill hesitated, looking far ahead 
where the sky dipped behind the hills, and 
then turning his clear, penetrating gaze on 
the figure at his side. 

" At least there is amelioration," he said ; 
" let it rest there. I have a favour to ask of 
you before our parting to-day buries mutual 
confidences — a promise to exact. If ever 
you find yourself in circumstances of trouble 
or perplexity in which it should occur to you 
that I could be of help, will you come to me 
for help?" 

"You are very good," she said, hesitating. 

" That is not what I want." 

" I know, but I was thinking it would 



228 JULIET. 

depend on the nature of the trouble. There 
are some which I could take to no one." 

" I trust you will never be so greatly- 
tried, " he said. 

" So do I ; I could not be so brave as 

you." 

" Well ? " he said, inquiringly, after a little 

pause. 

"Yes, I promise/' she said, "with that 
reservation. I couldn't do without sympathy, 
but then you see I am only a woman." 

" And thus know too how to sympathize," 
he interrupted. 

" I don't think so," she said, shaking her 
head ; " I have said nothing to you.'' 

" I didn't want you to say anything. I hate 
the interest which keeps up a running com- 
mentary," Brunskill exclaimed vehemently ; 
" which says, Really ! Oh dear! Goodness 
gracious I How fright full How terrible ! You 
have listened and you have looked — that is 
sufficient ; and if I have been selfish in telling 



BY THE WHERN. 229 



you so tragic a story, I know you will for- 
give me, and be glad to have eased my 
trouble. There is not another soul in the 
world to whom I would have told so much. 
Once I was tempted to tell Laybourne, but 
he had too much knowledge, and the risk 
would have been too great. I must have 
told him all or nothing. Now, Molly, I have 
not told you all." 

" I knew you hadn't," she said. 
Their eyes met and they laughed, Brun- 
skill, however, stifling his laugh in a sigh that 
was almost a groan. 

"What a comprehending soul you have!" 
he exclaimed ; " you knew, you wondered, you 
were silent. ' Thus far and no farther has he 
told me,' you thought, and were perfectly 
proud and content. I can't tell you more ! 
There is no occasion to broach it ; my 
father's wish enforces silence on my part, 
and I should have only disregarded it under 
one circumstance. You know what that is. 



2 3 o JULIET. 

Oh, Molly, if you could have loved me as I 
love you ! " 

" Hush ! ' cried Molly, imperatively, turn- 
ing pale. 

They had reached the last stile, and he 
waited for her to pass through. As she did 
so, their eyes met again ; his ashamed and 
intensely humbled, hers looking tender pity 
through a mist of tears. That look, those 
tears, well-nigh unmanned him. He followed 
her and seized her hand. 

" You think me unkind ? ' he said. 

14 No, never ! " she exclaimed. " How 
could I ? I know you too well. I am not 
thinking of myself in any way. It is 
you. I am so sorry for you. What can I 
do?" 

44 Nothing. Ah ! you must not be 
sorry — not for me ! ' Brunskill said ; and he 
dropped her hand, standing still a moment, 
as he communed with his heart and sought 
stillness and strength. 



BY THE WHERN. 231 

" Molly," he said, coming up with her 
again, " I don't want your pity, remember 
that ! I want you to be happy — if you have 
happiness, I shall have through yours. 
Do you understand ? That is my convic- 
tion, and I shall act up to it. I shall pray 
for your long-continued happiness. As for 
myself, don't you know there is always some- 
thing to do for others to make up for what 
one misses for oneself?" 

Molly was past making any effort to 
speak. She shook her head with a waifish 
April smile and held out her hand. 

Brunskill wrung it passionately. 

" God keep you ! ' he said, scarcely above 
a whisper, and so left her. 





CHAPTER XIII. 



A BLACK NIGHT. 



It was late before Brunskill ^ot home that 
night, and when he went into his sitting- 
room he was amazed to find Matthew Mur- 
dock in the arm-chair, his head sunk on his 
chest, and sound asleep. The opening- of the 
door awoke him, and he stumbled to his feet 
with a foolish, swaggering leer. 

" I've driven a good bargain this fore- 
noon," he said, in answer to Brunskill's look 
of inquiry, " and there's nought puts a man 
in such good spirits as the feeling that he's 
outwitted some one with greater parts nor his 
own in a general way. It's like a draught of 
good ale to a dry throat. So I thought I'd 



A BLA CK NIGHT. 2 3 3 



be neighbourly and call and see you, Master ; 
and your landlady said you'd likely not be 
long, so I sat down and waited and fell over. 
You haven't favoured Alderdale so much 
lately, but that seemed natural, since the 
bait's been gadding." 

Brunskill did not speak, but he knew 
perfectly well that this was the clear plan of 
a tug of war that would be best grappled 
without skirmishing. He went round the 
table and sat down on the sofa opposite 
Murdock, who sat down too. 

"Is my meaning clear ? ' asked Matthew, 
disconcerted by the silence and severe gravity 
of the other man. 

" I suppose you mean your niece by the 
bait?' Brunskill said then. 

"You're right, bdarn" cried Matthew, 
clapping his hand on his knee. " I thought 
you were a quick one, and I like your honest 
way of meeting it. It's only Dale louts that 
glint all sheepish and shy like the lasses them- 



234 JULIET. 

selves, but you're none a Dale lout, as I've 
always held. There's something above us in 
your breeding, and I lay you're square all 
round ; I lay you're none one to shirk truths, 
or you'd none have that there picture on 
your walls for all the world to see. A bold 
stroke that, I call it." 

Poor Brunskill ! He glanced up at the 
"Priscilla' above the mantel-piece. It had 
that merit of a thoroughly good portrait — 
the capability of the eyes to follow those of 
any person who looked at them, and they 
looked at him now. It was his dearest pos- 
session. ll Do you too testify against me ? ' 
he thought. 

" You seem to forget that your niece and 
Noll Ormrod were pupils of mine for many 
years," he said. " When he left Moorhead 
he gave me this as a remembrance of both, 
but chiefly of himself. That is the history 
of my possession of it." 

" I lay a sovereign or two would back the 



A BLA CK NIGHT. 235 



job. It seems to me a real good one, and 
likely for cash," said Matthew. 

" It is very good," said Brunskill, " and 
will be valuable one of these clays as an early 
work of a great artist. But in my case it 
entailed no barter. It was a gift. He knew 
my interest in both, and that it was not 
probable I should value anything more than 
this." 

Matthew chuckled, snapping his fingers 
expressively. 

" He's a sly one, is Noll, and you're not 
far behind " 

" Not at all," Brunskill interrupted. " Had 
he thought for a moment that his own in- 
terests were at stake he would not have done 
so foolish a thing. But he knew they were 
not. When he found there was a complica- 
tion it did not alarm him ; he knew with 
whom he had to deal." 

"There's something there I don't under- 
stand," said Matthew. 



236 JULIET. 

" It is quite self-evident," said Brun- 
skill. 

" Ay, may be it is to you, who have light 
on it all round, but I haven't. Will you 
speak a bit straighter ? " 

" I will, after you have told me your 
object in coming here at all." 

"That's easy told," said Matthew. "It 
was done in kindness, b'darn. I thought it 
was time you and the lass were making it up, 
and I came to encourage you by telling you 
of my consent and good- will. No offence, I 
hope." 

He was growing uneasy, feeling that 
Brunskill was rather too much of a gentle- 
man for his lin^o ; too incisive, easv, and 
self-possessed to be an admirer of Molly's, 
according to his idea of what that involved ; 
and could make no headway against this 
perspicacious reception, which seemed to 
expect matters of great moment to come 
under discussion presently, and to be setting 



A BLACK NIGHT. 237 



aside as subsidiary the only one seething in 
his own brain. 

<4 Not the least offence," said Brunskill, 
without flinching. " But you are under a 
misapprehension, Mr. M unlock. Your niece 
is engaged to be married to her cousin, 
Noll Ormrod. I thought it was generally 
known." 

Matthew sprang to his feet with a great 
oath, and Brunskill rose too, resting his hand 
on the table and looking calmly across at 
him. 

" Is that truth ? " asked Matthew. 

" It is quite true," said Brunskill. 

" By G — ! and she may be thinks it a 
light matter to fool a man like me ? " 

** I don't know how she can have fooled 
you," said Brunskill. " Others have known 
without asking her. You have to thank your 
own habits of indifference and unofenial sur- 
liness for not having had it discussed with 
you as a matter-of-fact -" 



238 JULIET. 

" That's a lie!" burst from Matthew; " IVe 
none been indifferent. I've oft told Tamar 
to make you welcome to our best ; and only 
t'other day I was cracking to the lass about 
you, and she made no such fuss that it wasn't 
a fact that you loved her. As for Noll, she 
told me nought. He used to come loafing 
about the Grange, but it was always with his 
painting- work ; and they were cousins, and 
had done their tasks and laked together, and 
it seemed natural. I never dreamt she'd be 
such an arrant fool as choose that limb, 
who'll turn her over, as we turn rubbish 
into a beck, one of these days, when it 
was so certain sure that she'd you too 
at her call, only she seems such a blind 
daftie as never to have known that. Why 
the devil didn't you get first innings. 
Master ? " 

" How do you know that I did not ? ' 
Brunskill asked. 

11 I ken because she was so innocent over 



A BLACK NIGHT. 239 

being your sweetheart, and she's none the 
lass to put on or lie." 

" There you're right," said Brunskill. 

" He'll never marry her," said Matthew, 
with an insinuating leer, after a moment's 
pause. 

" What has that to do with me ? I am 
her friend now, and always shall be." 

" Friend — ay, bdarn ! But such friend- 
ship's ticklish, like the Whern overflowing its 
banks and never stopping till some deathly 
harm's done. Now, I've no mind to have my 
name fouled, remember." 

" You brute ! " said Brunskill, in ; a deep 
tone of ra^e. 

" I've reason on my side," said Matthew, 
sullenly. 

" The reason of a sot — not the respect- 
able reason of a respectable man. The sooner 
you understand that this matter rests between 
her and me alone, the better. She and I are 
under perfect mutual understanding ; she has 



2 4 o JULIET. 

no more to fear from me than Noll has, and 
beyond that understanding I shall take no 
step by the authority or at the instigation of 
any man." 

14 Thee'rt a fool, a damnable fool ! Thy 
love's been calf-love, then ? ' said Matthew, 
with a long taunting jeer. 

" That's best known to myself," said 
Brunskill, under an overwhelming desire to 
fell him ; but, instead, he strode to the 
door, and held it wide open, without speak- 
ing. 

Murdock looked at him, and knew he 
must go. Brunskill was deathly pale ; his 
eyes glowed with suppressed passion, the 
veins on his brow stood out like whip-cord ; 
he looked as though he could have fallen 
upon him and shaken the breath from his 
body ; and Matthew slunk past trembling. 

He went to the inn for his horse, and 
drank deeply while waiting for it, the anger 
at his baulked shrewdness focussing the while 



A BLACK NIGHT. 24 1 



round Molly. She was unprotected and the 
weaker ; he could wreak his anger on her. 
This idea, once hatched, gained force and 
feasibility as the fumes of dry liquor 
mounted to his brain, and bred a madman's 
desperate expediencies. All the way home 
he brooded over them, chuckling exultingly 
at Tamar's absence, plotting revenge, nurs- 
ing the blind rage natural to the thwarting 
of his will, and swearing with terrible oaths 
to punish her for his own obtrusive folly 
in going to Brunskill on such a fool's 
errand. 

But on one point he calculated wrongly. 
Tamar had returned. Molly found her pat- 
tering about the house when she went in 
after her walk, and they had had a long talk 
after tea. Tamar had told her all about the 
funeral, and Molly had told Tamar all about 
her talk with Matthew, and asked her to tell 
him of her engagement. She did not name 

Brunskill, but Tamar knew the bent of 
vol. 1. 16 



242 JULIET. 

Matthew's mind on the question, and easily 
guessed that some urgent representation had 
made her, too, urgent for a full confession. 
It was hard work with Tamar not to expos- 
tulate before this decided step was taken. 
Preference for Brunskill's suit was one of the 
few points in which she agreed with Mat- 
thew ; indeed, in her opinion, none but a fool 
or a lass-in-love would have hesitated a 
moment between the two. " Noll's a fair 
weather chap," she had said once to Molly. 
In her own mind she added, " And the 
master'd be the stronger and cannier the 
more the wind blew and the rain fell, like the 
house built on a rock." But still an instinct 
of delicacy forbad her to make the compari- 
son aloud without her advice having been 
asked, and she saw Molly was a " lass-in- 
love," and that there was no doing anything 
with her. 

And then they heard the horse's hoofs on 
the bridge, a great thumping in the stable. 



A BLACK NIGHT. 243 

and Matthew's low stormy swearing as he 
crossed the yard. They had heard such 
sounds before a dozen times, and yet to-night 
it struck both of them somehow that a climax 
had come, and they looked at each other 
with foreboding. 

Tamar was for hustling Molly off to bed ; 
but for the first time she resisted and stood 
her ground. 

" Eh ! my lassie." said Tamar, " he's had 
a bout with some one ; he's none gone in 
liquor, just dipped, and that's always worst. 
There's no saying that he won't fall on thee 
if he's been hearing of Noll." 

" Very well," said Molly, " I was a coward 
the other day ; I won't be now. I'll face the 
truth and have done with it." 

Matthew came in, and he carried a gig- 
whip in his hand, whether from accident or 
intention they never knew. But when they 
looked at his face, it was easy to associate 
the whip with his mood, easy to remember 



244 JULIET. 

that men had raised such things against 
women when the scathing of words and curses 
did not seem to touch them sufficiently. 

It made Tamar shudder ; but she did not 
lose her presence of mind, and, going up to 
him, she touched it, saying, cheerfully, 

" Why, Matther, man, the passage peg's 
the place for that, as ye ken. Let me lay 
it by." 

Matthew, however, stared at her. 

"You here!' he said, pulling the whip 
from her. " Well, it makes no difference now ; 
no more difference nor there is between this 
here stout piece of leather and that there 
muzzle-loader," pointing to one of the vil- 
lainous old guns slung on crockets above the 
mantel-piece. " Either'll serve my purpose 
if things go against me. It's none you I've 
to deal with now, Tamar Verity ; it's my 
niece. Molly ! " 

"Yes, Uncle," said Molly, turning and 
facing him. 



A BLACK NIGHT. 245 

11 I'll uncle thee!' said Matthew, raising 
one hand menacingly ; " I'll uncle thee, thou 
bold, brazen lass, with thy wilfulness and 
foolishness ! Such a mess as you're making 
of yourself! What are you thinking about, 
to turn from a man like the Master yonder, 
for a sly dog like Noll Ormrod, and make a 
laughing-stock of me ; me, the shrewdest 
man in all t'Dale, who's never been outwitted 
by buyer or jobber ! And next thing'll be 
you'll be a laughing-stock too, all the folk 
pointing and jibing at t'lass who believed 
Noll Ormrod 'd put up with such as her when 
he was a grand Londoner, with fine ladies 
to choose among. What'll you do then, 
eh ? " 

" I can think of that when he comes to it," 
she said. 

" Think ! — ay, and maybe expect the 
Master'll be ready to take up with other men's 
cast-offs. Thee'rt fair a sucking-lambkin, 
Molly. Tamar, dost fancy thy cade-lamb ?' 



246 JULIET. 

" I should expect nothing of the kind ! ' 
Molly exclaimed. 

" What would you expect, then ? Flirky 
ways are none content with spinster days. 
There's no saying what you mightn't come 
to — it might be that mucky and foul ; for if 
you're a maid you'll have to face the world, 
maybe in hunger and starvation. Molly, if 
you tak the Master, I'll die more easy when 
my time comes — meet your father more easy ; 
poor Tony, who was daft enough to trust 
me. 

" No, Uncle," she said, undauntedly; " I'm 
very sorry, but I'm daft enough too to 
trust Noll. I'll never break faith with 
him." 

" You won't ? " 

"Never!' she repeated. " And if you 
have anything on your conscience, if you have 
done wrong by me, is it I who must punish 
another, letting alone myself, to make your 
mind easy ? Uncle, if you'd gone straight, 



A BLACK NIGHT. 247 

you'd have done your duty by me. I can- 
not help you to mend it if you've gone 
crooked." 

you ! 

She did not speak. 

" Maybe you think you've got right on 
your side ?" 

" Yes, I have," she said. 

" And what's right by might ? " he asked ; 
" God or the devil, which is the stronger ? 
There's nought o' God in my heart, and 
there's a canny bit o' the devil both in my 
hand and heart, and he shall have a fling, ay, 
as sure as there's a hell gaping, and you're 
two weakly women ! ' 

11 Run to the door, and get away sharp 
and call Carlings," said Tamar, in an urgent 
whisper. 

" You go," said Molly ; " I'm not a bit 
frightened." 

" He's mad " 

But Matthew had overheard. He turned 



248 JULIET. 

and closed the door, tightened his hold on the 
whip-handle and advanced into the middle of 
the kitchen. Then he raised the whip, swung 
the lash dexterously round his head, and 
brought it on to the floor with a hiss, after a 
curving sweep that switched the pewter- 
dishes on the delf-rack and the brass candle- 
sticks on the mantel-piece. 

It was done with a diabolical deliberation 
that spoke volumes for his intentions. Molly 
looked round wildly. Tamar was signalling 
to her to edge behind him ; but she stood 
paralyzed. Both were certain that the next 
slash would fall on them, and Tamar's last 
hope was to save Molly. But she saw she 
could not move ; suspense and expectation 
chained her to the spot where she stood. So 
Tamar hazarded a plunge, and gained the 
door. Matthew turned, but too late. She 
had wrenched it open, and was speeding 
down the passage, then across the garth, with 
cries for help ; until in the unmooned gloom of 



A BLACK NIGHT. 249 

the falling night, she reached the High Farm, 
and battered at the door with clenched fists, 
until she was answered and heard hasty steps 
coming downstairs. 

Then she sped back, and in recrossing 
the garth was dimly conscious of hearing a 
gate clash, the gate just beyond the bridge 
she thought, but was too dazed and scared by 
the silence about the house to attach any im- 
portance to it at the moment. As she went 
in, some one ran against her, clutched her, 
and then pushed her away with a force that 
sent her staggering against the wall. It was 
Murdock, hurrying out blindly. But he did 
not speak, and went on in a stumbling, spas- 
modic way which made it evident he could 
not go far or fast. 

Tamar let him be. It was for men to 
deal with such as he. She sped on into the 
unstirred silence and gloom of the kitchen. 
The candle had been knocked over, and all 
was in darkness. She groped about for 



250 JULIET. 

matches in sickening fear — almost expectation 
— that every moment foot or fingers would 
come in contact with something soft, motion- 
less, yielding. 

But they did not, and at last she struck a 
light and threw a piercing glance all round 
into the wainscoted, black shadowiness of 
the big old place. There was, however, 
nothing in it that either was or had been 
alive ; but another blow had evidently been 
attempted, for the brass candlesticks were on 
the hearthstone, and one of the guns w r as 
hanging 1 slantwise from one crocket. That 
told a tale. Surely the whip had caught in it 
and lost its impetus. She realized this with 
unspeakable relief, and could face the ques- 
tion, " Where is Molly ? " 

Carling had now followed her, and in a 
few words she told him all. A search for 
Matthew was cautiously instituted, cautiously, 
because she believed the drink had at last 
flown to his brain. But they soon found 



A BLA CK NIGHT. 2 5 1 

him, leaning against the stable-door, subdued 
and confused, and willing to go quietly 
to bed. 

Then Tamar's thoughts turned wholly to 
Molly. From the moment of leaving the 
kitchen she had neither seen nor heard any- 
thing of her. No sound had reached her 
ears, although she had expected the sudden 
sharp cry of pain rendered sharper by fear ; 
but whatever had passed had been done in a 
silence more hideous than sound. It was 
only after searching all through the house and 
buildings that she suddenly remembered the 
clashing of the gate ; and wondering she had 
not before associated it with Molly, she and 
Carling set out on to the Moss in search of 
her. 

Meanwhile, Molly was far on the way to 
Moorhead. She had not paused once in her 
wild run. She was impelled by a fear too 
great for anything but rapid action, for to her 
too it had seemed as though Matthew had 



252 JULIET. 

gone mad. She scarcely knew how she had 
got out of the kitchen. She remembered 
there was a sudden darkness from the stroke 
of the whip that was meant to reach her, 
catching the candlestick, and throwing it down 
on the floor with a jangle that evoked a 
horrible oath from him. She had had pre- 
sence of mind to see the opportunity for 
escape which this gave her, if only she could 
reach the door without coming in contact 
with him. Standing still for a moment or 
two until she was sure of his position by his 
fumbling for matches among the clinking 
things on the chimney-piece, and the volley 
of oaths to which he gave utterance in his 
baulked rage, she took two or three noise- 
less steps out into the passage, and then, 
lapsing into a hasty, frightened run, made 
instinctively for the gate on to the high road. 
Once on the Moss, she felt comparatively 
safe. She had listened as she ran, and was 
sure she was not pursued, but it did not occur 



A BLA CK NIGHT. 2 5 3 



to her to slacken her speed. While she had 
stood in the kitchen, with her nerves and 
energies strained to the utmost to seze the 
opportunity for escape, there had come before 
her a vivid picture of Brunskill's mother 
lying dead upon the floor after that " use/ess 
agonized writhing" had ceased, and this, grow- 
ing more vivid every moment, augmented her 
excited trepidation. 

The night was dark and close. There 
was no moon, and the sky was too cloudy for 
stars. Occasionally there came a flash of 
lightning, summer lightning, that glanced be- 
twixt the ragged edges of the clouds scud- 
ding above her. She could not accustom 
herself to these flashes, but in the suspense 
of expecting them, became exhausted and 
breathless. Each one startled her into a 
faint cry, for her nerves were unstrung, and 
she was tired with hurrying over the stones 
and ruts of the rough road. Each one, how- 
ever, showed her where she was, for the 



254 JULIET. 

darkness was thickening, and when she 
stretched out her hands into it, it seemed to 
possess a substance whose consistency she 
could calculate. To her excited brain, it 
seemed like huge wings that poised without 
one flap of motion. She felt continually that 
she ousdit to reach their ed^e and emerge 
into the buoyant light and air of day. 

But every quivering flash only confirmed 
the vastness of the night, and showed her 
the clouds parting and meeting and hurrying 
together with a certainty of aim and motion 
that seemed as though it must produce a 
sound. She would have been glad of a peal 
of thunder, as a relief to the heaviness that 
brooded all around ; but none came. The 
wind stirred now and then into a moan that 
rattled the stark rushes, and when that died 
away all was quieter than before. And 
through all, the darkness, the silence, the 
lightning that shot athwart both, she ran on 
and on until the Moss was far behind her, 



A BLACK NIGHT. 255 



impelled by the mastering fear of her uncle 
and his purpose, exaggerating them into 
murder — fancying she saw the dead face of 
lovely Mrs. Brunskill " in such a position 
that the jaw could not drop;" influenced by 
the many influences of her return home to 
find Tamar gone, of her lonely days and 
nights with Murdock, of Brunskill's story and 
Murdock's rage, influences far greater than 
that of the wings that were sustaining them- 
selves above the world and seemed to move 
with her. 

But presently their horror absorbed the 
others. Instinctively she began to race those 
wings, from which there seemed no escape. 
She had not been out an hour, but surely 
days had lapsed for ever into one long dark- 
ness. As this feeling forced itself upon her, 
she stopped and clasped her head in her 
hands. Could any one have seen her, they 
would have known she was losing her senses. 
She felt herself, dimly, that it was so. The 



256 JULIET. 

wings seemed to be descending, to be press- 
ing on her, and her reason, her powers of 
resistance, were surely failing. It was as 
though she must sit down to leave some 
space around her ; and she sat down with the 
dumb horror of fear and suspense and bewil- 
derment growing upon her, and creeping 
into her very brain. 

She sat down, and soon she fell asleep. 

When she awoke, the dawn was breaking, 
but there had been a shower, and she was 
wet through. For all this, however, she 
cared nothing, since it was no longer dark ; 
but getting up, looked round. It was some 
time before she could tell where she was, for 
she had unwittingly diverged from the road 
and gone down the fields towards the valley. 
Her thoughts were astray, and she could not 
fix them on her position. She looked 
vaguely round, but somehow her brain did 
not clear, and she could not think. She felt 
dizzy and exhausted, and knew not what to 



A BLA CK NIGHT. 2 5 7 

do, or whether to do anything but simply to 
sit down again. 

Beyond the shoulder of Blaesfield there 
came just then a shimmer of light. It spread 
behind the ridges of the eastern hills, and, 
gradually creeping into the valley, tinged the 
mists of morning with a saffron tint — a tint 
so dim, so impalpable, so subtle in its mere 
suspicion of colour, that it was surely the 
shadow of colour rather than itself. There 
was no glow in it, no obtrusive confidence, 
such as the setting sun flings abroad. This 
was a blush, nothing more ; and as it stole up 
from the underworld it seemed that its light 
was just as much as a star would diffuse, in 
the rolling voids of space around it. 

How could Molly look and not be be- 
witched ? She was a dale's girl, and yet had 
never seen a summer sunrise. She was a 
dale's girl, and as such had the ardent love 
of Nature's infinite canvas which only fami- 
liarity with and reverence for Nature can 

VOL. I. 17 



25S JULIET. 

inculcate. She stood and gazed upon it, 
fascinated, enthralled. Was this how the 
great burning sun encroached upon the 
realms of night ? this, its wooing of dewy 
country and empty streets ? As it spread 
softly and slowly over the upper world, 
she began to walk, and walked instinctively 
towards it. 

Down the dew-laden fields she went, her 
eyes fixed on that calm herald of the day. 
It gave her peace and forge tfulness — what 
more did she want ? She went through the 
farm -yards at Limley, where a dog barked at 
her, as well it mi^ht at a inrl walking abroad 
thus early, hoodless, with clothes that clung, 
limp and heavy with rain, to her figure. It 
did not disturb her, however, and she crossed 
the stream, passed Goyden Pot and Reggar- 
mote Scar, and turned with the turning of 
the valley. The golden shimmer had spread 
faintly all up to Whernside, and stretched 
before her, alluring in its delicate vagueness ; 



A BLA CK NIGHT. 2 5 9 

but she was beginning to be conscious of 

great weariness and stiffness, her head 

throbbed, and every step was a difficulty, 

sending, as it did, shooting pains through all 

her limbs. 

There is a meadow just before the 

Alderdale pastures, that is bordered on one 
side by the river, on the other by a belting 
of trees. It looked very solemn and quiet 
now when Molly reached it, and she felt 
suddenly powerless to go further. There 
was a strange dizziness in her head ; every- 
thing seemed to be spinning round, trees,, 
river, grass, hills, and sky, all running chaoti- 
cally into each other and blotting each other 
out. She sat down on a stone where the 
water touched her feet, and laving it out in 
one palm, bathed her hot head and smoothed 
her hair, that was hano-ino; down her back in 
soft dripping lengths ; and presently she 
began to plait it with weak, uncertain fingers. 
But they were not equal to the task, and 



2 6o JULIET. 

dropped to her side ; and she involuntarily 
leant back and laid her aching head upon the 
bank. 

This was how Brunskill found her. All 
night long he had been searching. Tamar and 
Carling had made their way to Moorhead, 
and he, sitting up ostensibly reading, but 
really the victim of a presentiment of some- 
impending calamity, which made study and 
sleep equally impossible, had been the first to 
hear them at Mrs. Orm rod's at the other end 
of the village. Full of sickening fear, he 
rushed out and devoted himself to the search. 
Twice already he had passed through this 
field, and now at the third time his eye was 
instantly caught by that white heap against 
the river, that might have been a snowdrift 
for motionlessness. Another moment, and he 
was kneeling over it and calling her bv her 
name in a voice that changed from tender 
pity to sharp agony of apprehension, when 
she did not answer. 



A BLACK NIGHT. 261 

He lifted her, and the movement seemed 
to rouse her. She opened her eyes, fixing 
them on him, but he saw that they were 
vacant in their pathetic, feverish brilliancy, 
and did not know him. His arms closed 
round her with convulsive passion of posses- 
sion as he gazed down at her, uttering 
every endearing epithet of which he could 
think. 

" And he knelt over he 7% and she writhed, 
and at last she was still" 

Those were the words that presently 
oozed from Molly's lips, and she screamed in 
frantic fear, and struggled in his arms. 

It froze his blood to hear her. Those 
were his words of the previous afternoon — 
not twelve hours ago — his words ! 

Had they maddened her ? 

" The sins of the fathers shall be visited 
upon the children." Was that true after all ? 
Was this the real visitation, in which there 
could be no softening? Had his anguish to 



262 JULIET. 

fall through her suffering, her suffering to 
fall through his? Brunskill groaned. Of 
all thoughts now, this was the most terrible 
to him. 



GS^^^S^^* 



«*_- 




CA\ 



^ lO^K 4S3| fiSjr ^p, . Tj. 



5 > , , 



CHAPTER XIV 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 

" What had you been saying to her ? She's 
constantly talking of you in her delirium, 
associating you with murder and suicide and 
all kinds of horrors. She scarcely names 
Murdock. She seems to imagine Noll is 
kneeling over her, and strangling her, or 
something, and then she says, ' Oh, don't, 
don't, Mr. Brunskill ! ' just as though you 
were hurting her. Had you been discussing 
such things ? " 

It was Miss Gliddon who spoke. She 
had just returned from Alderdale, from watch- 
ing with Tamar in Molly's room, and hear- 
ing all the wild, hideous images which her 



264 JULIET. 

distraught brain was dwelling upon as 
realities. They had been unable to make 
any sense out of them. Murdock and his 
whip and her flight, seemed to be wholly 
absorbed in some previous horror, of which 
they knew nothing. There were strange 
allusions to Tamar's absence, to Matthew's 
watchfulness, to the quiet house, the long 
nights with their ghostly moonshine, the 
eerie sobbing of the river, the reckless scour- 
ing up and down of rats behind the wains- 
cot ; but although it was evident all these 
had left their impression upon her imagina- 
tion, they were wholly subsidiary to some 
horrible crime with which BrunskilTs name 
was constantly associated. It had made them 
shudder to hear her. 

And then Brunskill met her on the way 
home. 

"How is she?' he looked, rather than 
asked, his face haggard, his eyes suspicious 
and imploring and hungry. 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 265 

" She is very ill, and will be worse yet," 
Miss Gliddon said, bluntly, and she stood 
still and stared at him. " What in the world 
have you been tehing her ? ' she asked. 

He did not answer. His eyes fell. 

They walked on, he sunk in miserable 
thought, she confused, astonished, inclined to 
be angry and blame him for she knew not 
what. 

Suddenly an idea struck her, flashed 
across her face like an illumination, but the 
nature of it made her shrink from giving it 
utterance. Instinctively she edged away 
from him and cast a furtive glance of pene- 
trating scrutiny over his whole person and 
bearing. 

He was quick to feel it. Always keenly 
sensitive, the present over-wrought state of 
his feelings roused him at once to notice this 
slight, involuntary action of withdrawal, this 
drawing away of the skirts of her garments, 
this broadening of her Phylacteries and 



a 66 J U LI El. 

shrinking from the contamination of moral 
leprosy. 

" Don't ! " he said. 

It was a little word, but the movement of 
his hand accompanying it, the low tone of 
poignant suffering, carried shame and con- 
fusion to her soul. She rallied her strict 
sense of justice, her sound unprejudiced judg- 
ment, and renounced the Pharisaical condem- 
nation into which she was drifting. 

" I know what you were thinking," Brun- 
skill said. 

"What? But stop — don't, if you would 
rather not." 

" I would rather. There is no fear of my 
being tempted to perjure myself. You were 
thinking that once upon a time 1 had com- 
mitted a crime — let us say. murder — and that 
I had confessed it to her under promise of 
secrecy and because I could not now marry 
her. I wanted her pity for my remorse, I 
suppose; her belief in my penitence. No! 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 267 



I have been selfish, but not so selfish as 
that." 

She was silent, self-convicted of her quick 
falling- away from the straight path of charity 
which does not " cast all doubt upon the 
darker side ; ' and he mistook the spirit of 
her silence. 

" You think only guilt could be thus 
penetrating of suspicion ? ' he asked, with 
dulled sarcasm. 

" Quite the reverse," she said. ' l I was 
thinking only a clear conscience could be 
thus frank in facing suspicion." 

" I could swear to the perfect truth of my 
refutation," he said. 

" I don't want you to swear. 1 believe 
you," she assured him, earnestly. 

" You thought you had scented the fox ? ' 
he asked, with a faint smile. 

11 I remembered that you were considered 
to be a Bohemian, that so far as anything was 
known of you, you might be ' Nobody's 



268 JULIET. 

child '; and because this generated a mystery, 
of course I concluded the mystery must be 
dark, and you dark too. But that is human 
nature, to credit a man with sin before good- 
ness. You must forgive me. I had forgotten 
that the Ethiopian cannot change his skin; and 
more shame to me after the experience of all 
these years." 

" I would never have touched her hand 
had mine been wicked. I could never have 
looked into her eyes, no, not even to learn 
purity and goodness ! But your suspicion 
was natural enough after what she must have 
said." 

" And there were grounds tor her say- 

• II 

ing it 

" Many topics come under discussion in 
conversation." 

"Certainly, but some are much better left 
alone, as in this case. Something has cer- 
tainly predisposed her to lose her wits under 
Murdoch's brutality. Betty Carling says she 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 269 

was much frightened on coming home and 
rinding Tamar away. I know she had a 
great horror of drunkenness." 

" That was what we had been talking 
about. Only yesterday 1 met her in the 
fields, and we sauntered and talked." 

" And you were telling her of cases that 
had come under your observation ? " 

11 Of one. She was fascinated ; but I did 
not know, I had no idea, that she had that 
horror of drunkenness. She said nothing. 
Of course I might have known that it was no 
subject for her ears ; but I was selfish, blindly 
selfish ! " 

" For the first time in your life, then," 
Miss Gliddon said, warmly. " There, don't 
reproach yourself, or we shall have you ill 
next. What a look you look! Have you had 
any breakfast ? No ! and you were up all 
night. Come with me home, and you shall 
eat properly. You must eat! I know you're 
sick at heart, you poor fellow, but all the 



2 7 o JULIET. 

more reason you shouldn't be sick in body. 
Yes, yes, I have sense on my side, have 
I not ? " 

He could not help smiling. She was so 
peremptory, so authoritative, as though he 
were a child ; and unused as he was to this 
true womanly instinct of caretaking and tem- 
poral supervision, the mingling of amusement, 
astonishment, and gratitude that it awoke in 
him, was the very best tonic that could have 
been administered. 

It was true that long days and nights of 
suffering and delirium were before Molly, but 
they could assure him that her brain was only 
affected by the fever ; when that subsided, it 
would be clear and strong as of old. Every 
morninof found him at Alderdale. The 
climax things had reached was too i^reat to 
allow of his being held back from showing 
his interest in her bv any speculation as to 
what Murdock and the gossips would say. 
It was he who had found her, and carried her 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 271 

home and put her under Tamar's care, and 
then saddled the horse and galloped all the 
way to Newbridge for the doctor. Thus he 
had established, by active service, his right 
to the first daily bulletin. The doctor came 
in the afternoons, and Brunskill waylaid him 
as he passed through the village on his home- 
ward way, and insisted on having the truth, 
and neither more nor less. Then he sat 
down and penned the report to Ormrod. He 
had been the first to write to Ormrod. No 
one else seemed to think of him. Tamar 
could not write, not being " scholard " enough 
to know her letters, letting- alone form them ; 
Miss Gliddon was still preoccupied with her 
brother ; Mrs. Ormrod had gone weeping to 
Alderdale, and been chiefly useful in enter- 
taining the gossips, scolding Matthew, and 
soliloquizing at Molly's bedside with arms 
akimbo ; and thus the task seemed to Brun- 
skill to devolve upon himself alone, and Tie 
undertook it as a matter-of-course. 



2 72 JULIET. 

He heard in return now and then. 
Ormrod wrote at first to express his sorrow, 
to ask for full particulars, to hope she would 
soon be convalescent — a thoroughly proper 
letter, whose conventionality a woman would 
have fathomed quicker than a man. Brun- 
skill never felt its heartlessness. He judged 
him by himself, chided himself for the chary 
details he had given, and at once set to work 
to atone for the fault, producing as the result 
such a letter as John Alden might have pro- 
duced had he written instead of spoken to 
Priscilla. Wholly in innocence of the elo- 
quence which his heart gave to his hand, he 
continued to write in this simple yet fervid 
style, which did not fail to impress even 
Ormrod. Such a fact as that of Ormrod 
having already swerved from his first love, 
never entered his mind. 

Miss Gliddon came into the school-room 
one morning with an open letter in her 
hand. 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 273 

" Who do you think is coming ? ' she 
asked. 

" Ormrod, of course," he said, a dull flush 
mounting into his cheeks, at the instantaneous 
thought that he would see Molly, that he had 
the riodit to see her. 

" Oh, no," Miss Gliddon said, with an 
impatient shrug, " I should think, if the truth 
were known, he's thankful to be away, and 
relieved from the necessity of showing active 
interest, which often entails trouble, you see. 
No, it is not Noll — a far greater stranger 
than he, is coming. It is Miss Laybourne — 
Juliet." 

" Miss Laybourne — what is bringing 
her ? " 

" I know as little as you. It is two years 

since I last asked her, and she has just now 

noticed the invitation. I suppose she was 

tired of saying ' No,' and so waited until she 

could say 'Yes.' It is one of her usual 

clever, graceful letters, and she seems to have 
vol. 1. 18 



274 JULIET. 

overcome all her reluctance, and really to be 
looking forward to it." 

" It will be very nice to see her." 
" Very, and I shall want your help in 
entertaining her. Jules is far from strong 
yet, and a little fresh company will do you 
good. The Feast is coming on, you know, 
and the children will have a week's holiday, 
and you shall come up to the Vicarage." 

" That was a capital idea of mine, quite a 
happy thought," she reflected, as she went 
along up the village. " I declare, the pro- 
spect of having Juliet, really in the flesh, at 
last, was too much for my nerves. I expect 
she's very blue, quite beyond me and my 
rusty powers, and she'll want to talk, to hold 
forth, perhaps ; for she's sure to have opinions 
and fads, and to lose no opportunity for 
benefiting mankind with them. Now, I 
could not tolerate that kind of thing. Her 
letters are all very well, just sufficient aroma 
of art and fashion to make them piquant and 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 275 

interesting to an old maid, whose light burns 
faintly, but appropriately, in an out-of-the- 
world valley, set round with hills, one of 
which accommodates a churchyard for her 
final Hie jacet ; but then, letters are different, 
the fumes of the meal — not the meal itself, 
and just tickle your senses into speculating 
on the nature of the solids and liquids, and 
sweets and bitters, that will be served up 
presently. And I haven't time any more 
than inclination, to sit still and knit, and say, 
Yes and No, Indeed and Really, to subjects of 
which I know little, and for which I care less ; 
or to go out walking, and be philosophized, 
or geologized, or botanized with, in the craze 
girls have now for mastering every branch 
of knowledge, and only completing their 
educations on their death-beds, when neces- 
sity compels them at last to close their observ- 
ing eyes, and hermetically seal their inquiring 
minds. No! if she did that to me, I would 
humour her so far as to declare 1 was a 



276 JULIET. 

devoted crustacean, and I would prove my 
words. I must have my own say. It's im- 
possible to be silent because another woman 
thinks she has something to say that's better 
worth listening to, for, of course, she hasn't, 
or one thinks she hasn't. Now, Brunskill 
and she will do admirably. He'll listen to 
her, because she's a woman ; and shell listen 
to him, because he's a man. I do wonder 
she's never thought of marrying, but she may 
have for what I know. I daresay I shall 
hear everything ; she was always a good girl 
to me, was Juliet, and it w r asn't all on account 
of my empty bloater-pots and ginger-jars. I 
declare I'm longing to see her now, and I 
quite dreaded it before, and Brunskill would 
never ^uess the invitation was selfish, or an 
impulse. I wonder what she'll be like." 

She had not to wonder long. Juliet fol- 
lowed very close upon her letter, arriving one 
night at sunset, when there was just suffi- 
cient touch of frost in the air to make a fire 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 277 

acceptable, and to give a never-to-be-forgotten 
glow of warmth and welcome to the cur- 
tained windows, the velvet-covered chairs 
and sofa, the snowy-draped round table, 
where the softly-shaded lamplight sparkled 
upon faultless silver, and crystal, and 
china, and the fur-rug, where a glossy little 
terrier lay extended in roasting slumber. 
They had not expected her quite so soon, 
and Miss Gliddon was upstairs, so Juliet 
walked in alone. She had walked up the 
glebe for old-time's sake. The glebe with 
the dark outline of the house against the 
sky, the hills gently folded, the murmur of 
the stream along the valley, all were familiar. 
But not so the garden, which she could dis- 
tinguish as tasteful and tidy ; and far less this 
cosy luxurious room. She stood just within 
the door, looking at it ; even the kettle on 
the hob hissed, as though exulting at the 
change, its steam curling saucily into the flash 
of the coal among the peat and wood. She 



278 JULIET. 

saw the peat in a moment. How many a 
sledge had she helped to fill from the gaunt 
array of stacks on the moors ; how many a 
skirt-full had she brought in from the lean-to 
in the yard ! No one in the house could 
stack them so economically, and yet effec- 
tively in the grates, as she ; and they — Ted — 
had dubbed her Stoker. 

That was years ago ! She stood now — a 
handsome girl, handsomely dressed, the gleam 
of a white fur-lined cloak on her arm, her 
throat clasped round with silver, a flash of 
jewels on her fingers as she drew off her 
gloves. Miss Gliddon came downstairs with 
little ejaculations of surprise and welcome, 
fired off like rockets, and ran in pushing a 
last hair-pin through her cap. 

"Oh! my dear," she said, "to think 1 
was not ready — to think " 

But that second reflection, which might 
have been only number two in a round dozen. 
was for ever lost ; for Juliet had turned sud- 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 279 

denly, and thrown her arms round her neck, 
and laid her head upon her breast, bending 
in her height, and claiming a sympathy such 
as a child would have claimed ; gathering it 
to herself as a child would have done. She 
did not speak, but maintained that silent clasp 
until the sob that had gathered j n h er throat 
was gone, unsobbed out ; and no trace of emo- 
tion remained, unless it were that repressed 
tears gave that wonderful limpid brilliancy 
to her eyes, when at last she faced the light. 

Miss Gliddon withdrew a few paces and 
surveyed her. 

' * What do you think of me?' Juliet 
asked, smiling. 

" Oh ! it is all stale news to you," Miss 
Gliddon said, shrugging her shoulders ; " you 
know it — ' divinely tall, and most divinely 
fair ; ' only you are dark. Where did you 
get that warm olive skin? It is Spanish. 
You should wear a lace mantilla, and be a 
donna. You are beautiful, Juliet." 



28o JULIET. 

. "Am I ?" said Juliet. "And yet, what 
does it matter ?" she added. " I remember 
I used to think it must surely be better to 
be beautiful than ugly ; that it would give me 
more chances in life. But one's ideas change." 

" I won't allow you to be cynical," said 
Miss Gliddon, briskly preceding her upstairs; 
u you will be quite out of character with the 
country, if you are ; and I won't have the 
people's morals corrupted. Here, if we are 
unlucky, we grin and bear it, as the saying 
goes ; we don't turn and kick." 

" And you think that is what cynicism 
does ? " 

" No; I know that is what cynicism is — 
the last, low, cowardly growl of the storm. 
Besides, fancy being cynical with that voice ! 
My dear, your voice is delicious, low-pitched, 
melodious — made for faith, hope, love. It 
wants a didactic voice to be effectively and 
consistently cynical, therefore you are en- 
tirely unfitted for it ; so remember ! ' 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 281 

" I had no idea you were so clever," said 
Juliet. 

This was as a battle-cry to Miss 
Gliddon. 

" My dear," she said, in sincere expostu- 
lation, " I am not clever. That is exactly 
what I am not. Don't harbour such an idea 
for a moment. I am simply a devoted — — — " 

In her alarm, she was on the point of 
expending her artillery at once, which would 
have been awkward, since she had no pre- 
sent intention of proving her words — Juliet's 
manner so far having disarmed her ; but she 
was interrupted by the Vicar calling her, and 
setting down the candlestick, disappeared 
without more ado. 

" Yes," thought Juliet, under the impres- 
sion that she was completing the sentence as 
it was meant to be completed, " she is simply 
a devoted woman. There is no doubt about 
it, so she was as honest over herself as over 
me ; and she is devoted, too, in a good cause, 



282 JULIET. 

which is not what all women are. I wonder 
if I am." 

They had a delightful evening. The 
Vicar deserted his study and joined them, 
and was for once roused from his abstraction 
sufficiently to fence with Juliet and enjoy her 
vigorous talk on modern men and things ; 
and Miss Gliddon found herself content to 
sit and listen, knitting, and admiring every- 
thing about her visitor, from her clear, low 
voice and her face, which was so animated 
in spite of its unfrequent smile, to the turn 
of her head, the easy unselfconscious grace 
of her finely-developed figure, and the little 
fascinating tricks of action in her hands. 

" Ah ! she is delightful," she said to 
Brunskill, the next day, when he came up 
and found her busy in the garden. 4< She is 
writing some letters just now, but will be out 
very soon. You will be amazed with her. 
The wonder is she was not married long 
aero ; but it must be her own fault. Doctor 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 28 



.-> 



Thorns has often told us, you know, what 
she was, but we never imagined her so fine- 
looking, and her manner so winning. I de- 
clare I am not in the least frightened of her." 

"Frightened of whom?' asked a voice 
behind them ; and they both turned, and 
Brunskill held out his hand, a flash of de- 
lighted surprise and fun lighting up his face. 

" You were the ogress," he said. 

"I ?" 

Juliet smiled ; but there was an air of 
perplexity about her as she stood and looked 
at him, still holding his hand, and apparently 
working out some mental puzzle difficult to 
grasp. 

" Have I never seen you since we left ? ' 
she asked. " I don't mean spoken to you, 
Mr. Brunskill, for, of course, I know we have 
never met point-blank, but in travelling. 
Surely you have passed me somewhere by- 
road or by rail ? " 

" Impossible ! " said Miss Gliddon. " He 



2 S 4 JULIET. 

has never been out of the dale since we came, 
have you ? " 

" No," said Brunskill. 

" I have seen some one very like you 
then," Juliet said; "but I cannot remember 
whom. I shall, however," she added, con- 
fidently. 

He winced, drawing back with a slight 
smile that revealed rather than concealed 
some cause of unhappiness, and did not 
escape her notice. 

"You don't look well," she said. "Not 
that you have aged in the least, but you have 
an anxious look, which you should not have 
here, where the air is so pure, and must 
keep the brain free from cobwebs and the 
spirits buoyant. What is it ? ' 

" Even here, we live ! he said. 

" I understand. Even here, life involves 
hope and fear, joy and sorrow. ' Each heart 
its suffering knows.' Yes, that is true, all the 
world over." 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 285 

" You look well, in every sense of the 
word, Miss Laybourne.' 

" I am very well," Juliet said. " But then 
I may not be, long." 

" Now there is the cloven hoof again," 
Miss Gliddon exclaimed. " How dare you 
be so morbid, Juliet ? Brunskill, you must 
rout it out of her. Of course, there are 
suffering, and sin, and disease in this life ; 
but we must not anticipate either one or 
the other. We must rise above them. I 
wouldn't give a fig for the man or woman 
who would shirk discipline. It's the greatest 
compliment the Almighty can pay us, to lay 
burdens upon our shoulders. It shows that 
we are made of stout stuff, and equal to the 
wear and tear of Time. Then comes Eter- 
nity, and our wounds are healed, our rents 
patched up, nothing but scars left — and 
those scars are honourable. ' Friend, go up 
higher ! ' that will be their meaning, and sud- 
denly we shall see face to face, no longer 



s*86 JULIET. 

through a glass darkly. Everything will be 
clear ; above all, the sense in the wounds 
and rents." 

" Very true," Brunskill said, softly. 

11 I don't see it," said Juliet to him. She 
had listened impatiently, her face darkening 
and frowning, and, now that Miss Gliddon 
had left them, plunging in among the musk 
and sw r eetbriar bushes to tie up some tall 
sheaves of phloxes, she walked on with him, 
eager for argument. " How can she tell ? ' 
she asked. 

" You mean that you think there can be 
no experience to glean here in this mono- 
tonous existence — just large enough for ' the 
daily round, the common task ' ? ' Brunskill 
said. 

" Yes, of course.' 

" She has not lived here all her life," he 
said, gently. " And, besides, don't you think 
the lives of all old maids enfold some 
story — some idyll of love ? YVe are made 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 287 

for love ; it is natural that like should rush 
to like, that we should expect to meet some 
one who shall be even dearer to us than our- 
selves. But there are slips and misses, mis- 
takes and misunderstandings, with fatal con- 
sequences ; and then, Ginevra-like, we slip 
into a chest to hide, and the lid falls, the 
spring clasps — something has gone out of us 
that never more sees light of day, and hence- 
forth what is left lives to be practical. The 
glamour is gone, there is no beacon-light on 
the future, we live in the present, do our 
little best, and presently lie down and die. 
No ties of husband, or wife, or children, bind 
us to earth. On the contrary, we have long 

felt that — 

" ' Death is Life's best, 
And he wins most who earliest goes to rest.' " 

" It is wonderful," Juliet said, medi- 
tatively. 

" Not at all; it is very simple — the sim 
plest of all the woofs that God weaves. 



2 38 JULIET. 

1 You want that, but you must not have it, it 
is not good for you,' is what He says. You 
have only to bend your will to His — and 
what easier ? Don't you know the fable of 
the wise man to his child ? * Take two 
pieces of wood, and lay one athwart the 
other, and you have a cross at once ; but lay 
them by one another — God's will by yours 
— and there is no cross.' " 

" I did not mean that at all by saying it 
was wonderful," said Juliet. " I was think- 
ing of the strangeness of you and Miss Gl id- 
don having reached such conclusions, not 
because they are religious, but because they 
must arise from experience. Have you 
talked much together, and convinced each 
other from theory ? " 

" We have never broached the subject. 
I was surprised by the warmth with which 
she spoke. It seemed to lay bare so much. 
Perhaps the sight of you — young, hand- 
some, glowing — reminded her of her o\ui 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 289 



girlhood, and some wound now only a 



scar." 



"Do you think she has been happy here ?■' 

" Very happy. She is universally liked, 
and thus her womanhood must be so far 
satisfied." 

" I wonder if it were a great renunciation 
to leave Marshlands ? " 

" What events have happened to her, 
assuredly would happen there. It might be 
a pain, it might be a relief, to leave them. 
Memory is less poignant, more consoling, 
when away from the objects associated with 
certain incidents. It is easier to believe then 
that ' duties are ours, and events God's,' 
because we attach more importance to the 
duties — at least, I think so." 

" It seems to me that you have thought a 
great deal," Juliet said, with one of her rare 
smiles, "and '.I, in my conceit, expected to 
find no crerm f thought anions vou all. I 
must have been terribly conceited indeed, 

VOL. I. 19 



290 JULIET. 

when I was dissatisfied with this place years 
ago, thinking- myself too good for it. Mr. 
Brunskill, is that old felt wideawake still in 
existence ? How I used to lon^ to know 
where you had bought it ? " 

" I bought this at Newbridge," Brun- 
skill said, taking off and smoothing the one 
he was wearing. " Its predecessor mounted 
in smoke to heaven lone aeo." 

"It deserved a chariot of fire for the 
speculation I used to indulge in over it, the 
interest it gave me, the castles in the air I 
used to build, of mysteries and intrigues and 
disguises. And yet I daresay you would 
have told me at once where it was bought, 
had I asked you." 

" I will tell you now, if you care ? ' he 
said. 

"Oh, very much," she exclaimed, eagerly. 

"It was bought at Carlisle." 

Her face fell, as he expected it would. 

" That tells me nothing," she said. 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 291 

" Not even the tradesman's name, you 
see," he remarked. 

" Of course I might have known you 

would not have told me had there been any 

clue." 

" Clue to what ?" 

" To where you came from, to ' 

I came from Carlisle." 



<( 



<< 



But I have never been to Carlisle." 
" What has that to do with it ? " 
" I am certain I have seen you some- 
where else than here. Are you sure you 
have never been to Marshlands, or Coombe, 
or London ? Why have you never been to 
Marshlands ? My father has asked you 
there again and again, I know. It would 
have been so natural that you should have 
gone to visit them." 

" I have been as reluctant to go as you 
to come here, I suppose," Brunskill said, 
unable any longer to resist laughing, " but I 
have been more punctilious than you, Miss 



292 JULIET. 

Laybourne ; I have always written to 
decline my invitations if I could not accept 
them." 

"Ah! Miss Gliddon has been telling 
tales!' Juliet exclaimed, " then I was right 
— you have mutual confidences. I declare 
you are as great a tease as ever you were, 
and it suits you. You don't look half so 
anxious as you did an hour ago. Is it not 
strange that I, jaded and blasee and washed- 
out, after the London season, should come 
down here and bring you some of the Elixir 
vita f " 

" You flatter yourself it is Elixir vita; it 
may be opium, and " 

" Oh no, it is not. You would not con- 
fess to it if it were, because you wouldn't be 
able to resist taking it, even though vou 
knew it to be noxious." 

" And you are neither jaded, blasee, nor 
washed out." 

"What am I then?" she asked, flashing 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT 293 



round upon him and standing still, drawn to 
her full heieht. 

"Brilliant, handsome," he said; "my 
prophecy has come true." 

" Is that the chief merit of the fact, in 
proving your wisdom ? " 

" It is not the least, in my opinion." 

" How have you borne to live here all 
these years ? Have you never longed to 
travel, to go into society, to mingle with men 
of learning and wit ? It is the most pre- 
posterous thing I ever knew that a man like 
you should be content to teach village chil- 
dren," Juliet said. 

" I am content," he said, simply. 

" Aren't they all blockheads ? ' she 
asked, stopping to smell a rose that 
was struggling out from some stifling 
clematis. 

" By no means," he said ; " indeed you 
must know it. You have heard of young 
Ormrod, from the Quins, if you have not 



294 JULIET. 

met him. He is an exception, one among 
others, I assure you." 

" Oh ! I have met him," she said, and 
walked on, leaving her blush among the 
flowers. " But do you really think he is 
clever ? " 

" I believe Mr. Ouin thinks so, which is 
more to the purpose." 

" But don't you consider it a mistake for 
him to adopt him ? It seems such an anomaly, 
a carpenter's son received into the family of 
an R.A. I should think he will certainly 
disgrace his new position. He may find the 
restrictions irksome, and make low friends of 
his own. Was he disposed at all to low 
company ? " 

Brunskill laughed. 

" He is far too eacrer for self-advance- 
ment to do anything compromising," he said, 
''besides which he had no low tastes, he was 
always above his position here, and I can 
imagine him revelling in what you call the 



PAST VERSUS PRESENT. 295 

restrictions. He had the love of a child or a 
Disraeli for the more glittering side of life, 
would have chosen peacocks rather than 
flowers in his garden, if he could not have 
had both." 

" That is no fault." 

" Oh no, quite the reverse in his case. 
Artistic perception compels a taste for the 
beautiful and magnificent, I suppose." 

" And you really think him suited for his 

position ? " 

" He will probably be famous one of 

these days, and will deserve his fame, for he 

will work hard." 

"You give him a good character," Juliet 

said. 

Brunskill stopped, looking thoughtfully 
down the valley. 

" On the contrary," he said, carefully clear- 
ing his boots from dust on the grassy edge 
of the sunk fence, " I give him no character. 
Character is a question of morals, and still 



296 JULIET. 

more of principles. As yet they are only 
sprouting. The test of the crop is in the 
threshing out." 

" Certainly," said Juliet, and could say no 
more. She felt as though a cold douche had 
been turned full upon her. 



END of vol. 1. 



Simmons & Botteu, Printers, Shoe Lane, E.C. 



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